37 weeks after the start of ‘lockdown’: yet more positive news about the impact of COVID-19 on Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England

Headline news

Week 37 was another decent one, especially for degree apprenticeships and especially ln Suffolk. BT pitched up with 67 new vacancies, 28 of which were at their Martlesham Heath site near Ipswich, which I know well from my annual trips to speak at a school in nearby Woodbridge (hence this week’s image which I took myself last February).

Unsurprisingly, most of BT’s vacancies were in various digital technologies, especially in Software Engineering along with others in Network Engineering, Cyber Security and Data Analytics, plus a few for Sales Professionals too. As ever, my occupational analyses continue to showcase the emerging professions in a changing careers landscape.

Speaking of which, another Week 37 highlight was the first vacancy I’ve seen for a Hygiene Specialist. I’ve been wondering if we might see some activity in this kind of sector and this particular HA has been posted by the Bakkavor Group in Crewe on a starting salary of £17,500, which I would say is a good par for the course. I always record starting salaries whenever possible and one day I might even do an analysis of them.      


Since the first ‘lockdown’ started on Monday 23rd March 2020, I have kept a record of all new higher and degree apprenticeship vacancies posted in England. I largely use data extracted every week from the government’s ‘Find an apprenticeship’ website, while also keeping an eye on other national vacancy sources. However, I exclude any vacancies that I would consider wholly unsuitable for an 18/19-year-old school or college leaver.

I’ve been compiling similar data since autumn 2018, so each week I compare my post-lockdown data with the corresponding number of weeks pre-lockdown, whilst also building up occupational and regional analyses.

When recording multiple vacancies posted by some of the larger employers, I use an element of editorial licence. Usually I record precise information on numbers and locations, but in a few cases I’ve made educated, conservative estimates based on data and patterns I’ve noted in previous years. I also adjust these retrospectively if updated data comes to light. Therefore, the figures I present each week will never be fully reliable nor will they ever fully compare like with like. However, as the picture develops week on week, the broad trends and occupational and regional breakdowns provide some powerful LMI that can be immensely useful in guidance.

Headline data

During the latest week, from 30th November to 4th December, I recorded:

  • 115 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 51 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

The overall comparison pre- and post-lockdown now looks like this:

  • In the 37 weeks prior to lockdown (8th July 2019 to 20th March 2020) I recorded 3,922 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 2,428 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 6,350 and an average of 172 new vacancies each week.
  • In the 37 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March to 4th December 2020) I have recorded 2,519 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 2,133 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 4,652 and an average of 126 new vacancies each week.  

This represents a 26.7% reduction in vacancies post-lockdown compared with pre-lockdown, but that figure continues to show a dramatic and ongoing improvement on the dire situation that prevailed during the spring and summer.    

Updated regional analysis

My evolving regional data is broken down by county and region and every county in England is represented. When large employers post multiple vacancies across a range of locations, I make strenuous efforts to identify those locations. In a small number of cases however, when big companies have posted nationwide vacancies with no indication of where in England they’re distributed, I have used either their head office location or, if applicable, the university city that apprentices will go to for some or all of their off-the-job studies. This is another element of my ‘editorial licence’, but it only marginally skews the overall figures.     

The 4,652 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (1,123)
  • Yorkshire (527)
  • West Midlands (367)
  • Greater Manchester (304)
  • Gloucestershire & North Bristol (214)
  • Hampshire (194)
  • Berkshire (124)
  • Surrey (114)
  • Nottinghamshire (109)
  • Tyne & Wear (106)
  • Merseyside (100)
  • Hertfordshire (95)
  • Lancashire (93)
  • Essex (93)
  • Sussex (82)
  • Dorset (81)
  • Suffolk (72)
  • Cambridgeshire (70)
  • Wiltshire (70)
  • County Durham (65)
  • Cheshire (63)
  • Cumbria (50)
  • Northamptonshire (48)
  • Devon (48)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (47)
  • Warwickshire (46)
  • Leicestershire (45)
  • Kent (44)
  • Bedfordshire (43)
  • Buckinghamshire (41)
  • Derbyshire (31)
  • Norfolk (31)
  • Staffordshire (25)
  • Oxfordshire (23)
  • Lincolnshire (15)
  • Shropshire (13)
  • Worcestershire (13)
  • Isle of Wight (8)
  • Cornwall (4)
  • Northumberland (3)
  • Herefordshire (2)
  • Not specified (6)

This is how those stats add up regionally. In brackets I’ve added the total population of each region in millions, which gives a sense of proportion to the apprenticeship figures. For example, in population terms the North East is by far the smallest region, so the differences in apprenticeship numbers are not as disproportionate as they might appear.

  • 1,123 London (8.9)
  •    630 South East (9.1)
  •    610 North West (7.3)
  •    527 Yorkshire & Humber (5.4)
  •    466 West Midlands (5.9)
  •    464 South West (5.6)
  •    404 East of England (6.2)
  •    248 East Midlands (4.8)
  •    174 North East (2.7)
  •       6 Not specified

Updated occupational analysis

Each week I update my occupational analysis by breaking down the new vacancies into what I loosely term ‘occupational areas’, which in some cases differ from the official apprenticeship standards terminology. Since lockdown, the complete lists of occupational areas represented in each category are given below. In my view, this provides a fascinating insight into what the emerging occupations are in a changing landscape.

Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships:

In total there have been 2,519 new vacancies spread across 66 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £30,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

484 Accountancy or Tax Specialists

333 Digital Technology Solutions (general) *see below for more details

325 Police Constables

152 Software Engineers

143 Chartered Management (general)

  80 Design, Development & Mechanical Engineers

  74 Civil Engineers

  74 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  69 Data Scientists & Analysts

  68 Chartered Building/Property/Valuation Surveyors  

  65 Project Management

  48 Cyber Security Specialists

  44 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

  39 Logistics & Supply Chain Professionals

  34 Aerospace Engineers

  33 Construction Management

  33 Food Technology/Manufacturing

  31 Network Engineers

  31 Retail Management

  29 Financial Services Professionals

  26 Sales Professionals

  25 Control Engineers

  25 Digital Marketing Professionals

  25 Manufacturing & Production Management        

  18 Manufacturing Engineers

  14 Nuclear Engineers

  13 Building Services Design Engineers

  12 Professional Economists

  12 Laboratory Scientists

  12 Railway Engineers

  11 Digital User Experience (UX) Professionals

  11 Solicitors

  10 Adult Nursing 

    9 Broadcast & Media Systems Engineers

    8 Clinical Trials Specialists

    8 Environmental Practitioners

    8 Gas Turbine Propulsion Engineers

    8 Town Planners

    6 Cardiac Physiologists

    6 Creative Digital Designers   

    6 Environmental Health Officers

    5 Chemical Engineers

    5 Human Resources Professionals  

    5 Packaging Technologists

    4 Automotive Engineers

    4 Biomedical Healthcare Scientists

    4 Materials Scientists/Technologists     

    3 Building Control Surveyors

    3 Compliance & Risk Specialists

    3 Marketing Management

    2 Diagnostic Radiographers

    2 Geospatial Mapping/Planning/Surveying

    2 Internal Auditors

    2 Neurophysiologists

    2 Tax Technologists

    1 Building Information Modelling Specialist (BIM)

    1 Chartered Legal Executive   

    1 Digital Healthcare Specialist

    1 Digital Transformation Engineer

    1 Learning Technology Support Teacher

    1 Midwife

    1 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Specialist

    1 Podiatrist

    1 Radiation Engineer (Healthcare)

    1 Transport Planner

    1 Visual Merchandiser

*Digital Technology Solutions (general) has encompassed the following specialisms and in many cases apprentices are able to sample multiple areas:

Software Engineering, Software Development, Network Engineering, Data Science, Data Analytics, Data Architecture & Integration, Cyber & Information Security, Software Consultancy, Solution Engineering & Development, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Technology Operations & Service Delivery, Infrastructure Specialists, IT Technical Support, Software Testing and Junior Product Management.

Higher Apprenticeships:

In total there have been 2,133 new vacancies spread across 61 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £30,000pa (the same salary range as DAs). The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

272 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

244 Software Developers 

155 Project Management Associates

140 Sales Executives

131 Data Analysts

101 Tax Technicians  

  99 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

  78 Policy Officers

  70 Investment Operations

  69 Nursing Associates

  58 Civil Engineering Technicians

  58 Software Testers 

  53 Network Engineers

  48 Children, Young People & Family Practitioners

  42 Commercial Procurement & Supply Specialists

  39 Cyber Security Technologists/Analysts

  39 Quantity Surveying Technicians

  38 Construction Technicians/Site Supervisors

  36 Junior Management Consultants

  34 Regulatory Compliance Professionals

  32 Business Analysts 

  32 Technician Scientists

  25 Public Relations Assistants  

  24 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  22 Buying & Merchandising (Fashion/Homewares)

  19 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

  12 Digital Marketing Executives

  12 Human Resources Practitioners     

    9 Investment Consultants

    8 Food Technology/Manufacturing

    7 Brewers

    7 Housing & Property Management

    7 Internal Auditors

    7 Logistics & Supply Chain Specialists

    7 Mineral Products Technicians

    7 Retail Management

    6 Automation & Control Engineers

    6 Automotive Engineering Technicians

    6 Financial Paraplanners/Advisers

    6 Insurance Professionals

    6 Operations Management   

    6 Construction Design & Build Technicians

    6 Marketing Executives

    5 DevOps Engineers

    5 Hospitality Management

    4 Learning & Skills Teachers 

    4 Social Care Leaders

    3 Hearing Aid Dispensers

    3 Learning & Development Practitioners   

    2 Nuclear Technicians

    2 Paralegals

    2 Tax Technology Technicians

    1 Hygiene Specialist

    1 Quality Practitioner

    1 Passenger Transport Management

    1 Recruitment Consultant

    1 Revenue & Benefits Officer    

    1 School Business Professional

    1 Sports Development Officer   

    1 Wedding Accessories Designer

Going forward

All being well, there will be a further update next week.

© Alan Bullock, 7/12/2020

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