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

Headline news

It’s all a bit too good to be true at the moment. Despite all the doom and gloom around us, new higher and degree apprenticeship vacancies have been relatively plentiful recently, especially degree apprenticeships. What’s more, I’m already hearing that next week looks promising too, with 70 Economist vacancies to be announced on Monday.

BAE Systems was the biggest contributor this week across several different sites, amongst which the counties of Cumbria and Lancashire were especially prominent. Global insurance giant Willis also made a big impact on my data, with Suffolk benefitting for the second week running.

In fact, remarkably, the three locations with the largest number of vacancies in the past two weeks have been Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria (90), the Fylde region of Lancashire (62) and Ipswich (54). I wish I’d put a tenner on that little combination. It also puts Cumbria into the top ten counties for post-lockdown vacancies, which is not something I would ever have predicted.

Thanks to BAE, Cowes on the the Isle of Wight has registered 16 vacancies too, which is my obscure reason for selecting this week’s very unseasonal image. It’s another photo I took myself, during a visit to Cowes Week.


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. I usually 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 7th to 11th December, I recorded:

  • 293 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 90 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

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

  • In the 38 weeks prior to lockdown (1st July 2019 to 20th March 2020) I recorded 3,977 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 2,505 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 6,482 and an average of 171 new vacancies each week.
  • In the 38 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March to 11th December 2020) I have recorded 2,812 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 2,223 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 5,035 and an average of 133 new vacancies each week.  

This represents a 22.3% 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 5,035 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (1,190)
  • Yorkshire (554)
  • West Midlands (373)
  • Greater Manchester (309)
  • Gloucestershire & North Bristol (215)
  • Hampshire (215)
  • Lancashire (147)
  • Surrey (142)
  • Berkshire (137)
  • Cumbria (122)
  • Nottinghamshire (115)
  • Hertfordshire (114)
  • Tyne & Wear (108)
  • Merseyside (101)
  • Suffolk (98)
  • Essex (94)
  • Sussex (83)
  • Dorset (81)
  • Cambridgeshire (72)
  • Wiltshire (70)
  • County Durham (69)
  • Cheshire (64)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (54)
  • Northamptonshire (52)
  • Devon (48)
  • Warwickshire (47)
  • Leicestershire (45)
  • Kent (45)
  • Bedfordshire (43)
  • Buckinghamshire (42)
  • Derbyshire (31)
  • Norfolk (31)
  • Staffordshire (26)
  • Oxfordshire (25)
  • Lincolnshire (16)
  • Isle of Wight (16)
  • Shropshire (13)
  • Worcestershire (13)
  • 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.

  • 1,190 London (8.9)
  •    743 North West (7.3)
  •    705 South East (9.1)
  •    554 Yorkshire & Humber (5.4)
  •    474 West Midlands (5.9)
  •    472 South West (5.6)
  •    452 East of England (6.2)
  •    259 East Midlands (4.8)
  •    180 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 2,812 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: 

485 Accountancy or Tax Specialists

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

325 Police Constables

194 Software Engineers

164 Project Management

148 Chartered Management (general)

103 Design, Development & Mechanical Engineers

  82 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  80 Aerospace Engineers

  78 Civil Engineers

  76 Data Scientists & Analysts

  68 Chartered Building/Property/Valuation Surveyors  

  55 Food Technology/Food Manufacturing

  50 Cyber Security Specialists

  45 Logistics & Supply Chain Professionals

  44 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

  33 Construction Management

  33 Network Engineers

  31 Retail Management

  29 Financial Services Professionals

  27 Manufacturing & Production Management (general)        

  27 Sales Professionals

  26 Manufacturing Engineers

  25 Control Engineers

  25 Digital Marketing Professionals

  20 Nuclear Engineers

  13 Building Services Design Engineers

  12 Laboratory Scientists

  12 Professional Economists

  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

    6 Human Resources Professionals  

    5 Chemical Engineers

    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

    2 Transport Planners

    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 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, IT Consultants, 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 2,223 new vacancies spread across 62 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: 

276 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

249 Software Developers 

159 Project Management Associates

142 Sales Executives

133 Data Analysts

101 Tax Technicians  

  99 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

  78 Policy Officers

  70 Investment Operations

  69 Nursing Associates

  59 Insurance Professionals

  59 Software Testers 

  58 Civil Engineering Technicians

  54 Network Engineers

  49 Children, Young People & Family Practitioners

  42 Commercial Procurement & Supply Specialists

  40 Technician Scientists

  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 

  25 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  25 Public Relations Assistants  

  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

    8 Marketing Executives

    7 Brewers

    7 DevOps Engineers

    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 Operations Management   

    6 Construction Design & Build Technicians

    5 Hearing Aid Dispensers

    5 Hospitality Management

    4 Learning & Skills Teachers 

    4 Social Care Leaders

    3 Learning & Development Practitioners   

    2 Actuarial Technicians

    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. I hope to post a Week 40 update over the Christmas weekend too, for those who can’t cope with the festive period without a nice bit of data.

© Alan Bullock, 12/12/2020

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.