45 weeks after the start of ‘Lockdown 1’: more positive news about the impact of COVID-19 on Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England

Headline news and latest reflections

Whilst slightly down on last week’s numbers, Week 45 nonetheless saw yet another improvement in the comparison between my pre- and post-lockdown data. Across the week, 174 new vacancies were posted that would be open to applications from school and college leavers, 120 of them DAs and 54 of them HAs. And for the second successive week the location of my photographic image is Tyne & Wear.

Although it was outscored by Greater London and Greater Manchester, the Newcastle area gets the nod once again for punching above its weight. This is mainly on account of 20 new vacancies being posted by global professional services firm Accenture at their Advanced Technology Centre on Cobalt Business Park, the largest business park in the UK. The 20 vacancies were all in Digital Technology Solutions (DTS) and were split between Software Engineering and Cyber Security. Accenture’s site is actually located a few miles to the north east of the centre of Newcastle, hence the location of the photo which I took in 2017 overlooking the North Pier at nearby Tynemouth.

Other notable employers posting multiple vacancies this week included Cisco Systems (30 DTS vacancies split between Manchester and Feltham), Balfour Beatty and WSP (all Quantity Surveying, Civil or Railway Engineering), Bloomberg, the Office for Product Safety & Standards, UK Research & Innovation, AstraZeneca, Agency786, Severn Trent Water, Schroders, Babcock and Bakkavor. As usual, the new vacancies were spread across a fascinating range of occupations and locations. Even lowly Herefordshire got on the scoresheet this week, with a Quantity Surveying degree apprenticeship posted by Balfour Beatty in Hereford itself.

Background

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, whilst also keeping an eye on other national vacancy sources. The audience I write for is the school/college-leaver market and those who advise them; I therefore exclude any vacancies that I consider wholly unsuitable for 18/19-year-olds seeking their first permanent role.

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 occasionally 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 25th to 29th January, I recorded:

  • 120 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 54 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

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

  • In the 45 weeks prior to lockdown (13th May 2019 to 20th March 2020) I recorded 4,362 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 3,044 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 7,406 and an average of 165 new vacancies each week.
  • In the 45 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 29th January 2021) I have recorded 3,402 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 2,642 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 6,044 and an average of 134 new vacancies each week.  

This represents an 18.4% reduction in vacancies post-lockdown compared with pre-lockdown, which continues to be a dramatic improvement on the dire situation that prevailed during the spring and early-summer when the reduction was close to 80%. Almost every week in the past 6 months, the percentage reduction has kept on getting lower, which is an encouraging sign given the overall economic conditions.

Updated regional analysis

My evolving regional data is broken down by county and region and every county in England is represented. The 6,044 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (1,430)
  • Yorkshire (597)
  • West Midlands (422)
  • Greater Manchester (336)
  • Hampshire (246)
  • Gloucestershire & North Bristol (232)
  • Berkshire (214)
  • Surrey (196)
  • Lancashire (171)
  • Tyne & Wear (155)
  • Hertfordshire (155)
  • Nottinghamshire (136)
  • Merseyside (130)
  • Cumbria (126)
  • Cheshire (111)
  • Suffolk (104)
  • Essex (97)
  • Sussex (96)
  • Cambridgeshire (88)
  • Dorset (84)
  • Wiltshire (80)
  • Warwickshire (78)
  • County Durham (76)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (76)
  • Northamptonshire (60)
  • Staffordshire (58)
  • Devon (57)
  • Kent (55)
  • Bedfordshire (53)
  • Buckinghamshire (52)
  • Derbyshire (49)
  • Oxfordshire (49)
  • Leicestershire (46)
  • Norfolk (32)
  • Lincolnshire (23)
  • Shropshire (18)
  • Worcestershire (17)
  • Isle of Wight (17)
  • Cornwall (8)
  • Northumberland (4)
  • Herefordshire (4)
  • Not specified (6) 

The following list shows how those stats add up regionally. In brackets I’ve included the total population of each region using the latest ONS data rounded to the nearest 1,000, 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. As a way of quantifying this a little further, I’ve added an extra stat in bold which indexes the apprenticeship figures against the total population of each region. In effect, the index equals the number of DAs and HAs so far this year per 10,000 of total population.  

  • 1,430   London (8,962,000: 1.596)
  •    925   South East (9,180,000: 1.008)
  •    874   North West (7,341,000: 1.191)
  •    597   Yorkshire & Humber (5,503,000: 1.085)
  •    597   West Midlands (5,934,000: 1.004)
  •    529   East of England (6,236,000: 0.848)
  •    537   South West (5,625,000: 0.955)
  •    314   East Midlands (4,836,000: 0.649)
  •    235   North East (2,670,000: 0.880)
  •        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 the start of ‘Lockdown 1’ 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 3,402 new vacancies spread across 74 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £30,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

517 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

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

325 Police Constables

248 Software Engineers

194 Project Management

187 Chartered Management (general)

140 Civil Engineers

108 Data Scientists & Analysts

107 Product Design & Development Engineers

  94 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  82 Aerospace Engineers

  70 Chartered Building/Property/Valuation Surveyors  

  65 Cyber Security Specialists

  59 Food Technology & Production

  53 Professional Economists

  51 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

  51 Logistics & Supply Chain Professionals

  51 Network Engineers

  39 Digital Marketing Professionals

  34 Financial Services Professionals

  34 Manufacturing Engineers

  33 Construction Management

  31 Retail Management

  30 Control Engineers

  30 Nursing (20 Mental Health, 10 Adult)  

  27 Manufacturing & Production Management (non-food)        

  27 Sales Professionals

  23 Laboratory Scientists

  23 Nuclear Engineers

  21 Railway Engineers

  15 Building Services Design Engineers

  14 Automotive Engineers

  12 Digital User Experience (UX) Professionals

  11 Materials Scientists/Engineers/Technologists

  11 Solicitors

    9 Broadcast & Media Systems Engineers

    9 Packaging Professionals

    8 Clinical Trials Specialists

    8 Environmental Practitioners

    8 Gas Transmission Engineers

    8 Gas Turbine Propulsion Engineers

    8 Town Planners

    6 Cardiac Physiologists

    6 Creative Digital Designers   

    6 Environmental Health Officers

    6 Human Resources Professionals  

    6 Non-Destructive Testing Engineers

    5 Chemical Engineers

    4 Biomedical Healthcare Scientists

    4 Marketing Management

    3 Building Control Surveyors

    3 Compliance & Risk Specialists

    3 Diagnostic Radiographers

    2 Electro-Mechanical Engineers

    2 Geospatial Mapping/Planning/Surveying

    2 Internal Auditors

    2 Neurophysiologists

    2 Occupational Therapists

    2 Tax Technologists

    2 Transport Planners

    1 Assistant Buyer

    1 Building Information Modelling Specialist (BIM)

    1 Chartered Legal Executive   

    1 Digital Healthcare Specialist

    1 Digital Transformation Engineer

    1 Human Performance Engineer 

    1 Learning Technologies Support Teacher

    1 Marine Engineer

    1 Midwife

    1 Operations Analyst

    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 (if a vacancy makes clear which specialism it’s in, then I record it as such; if it doesn’t, then I record it as DTS):

Software Engineering,  Software Development,  Software Testing, Network Engineering,  Data Science,  Data Analytics,  Data Architecture & Integration,  Cyber & Information Security,  IT Consultancy,  Software Consultancy,  Business Analytics,  Business Intelligence,  Business Systems Engineering,  Business Systems Developer,  Project Management, Technology Management,  Technology Operations & Service Delivery, Technology Architecture,  Innovation Technologist,  Innovation Design Analyst,  Infrastructure Specialist,  Solution Engineering & Development,  Junior Product Management,  User Experience Researcher,  Innovation Design Analyst, Global Mobility Analyst,  Agile Analyst,  Content Analyst,  Scientific Computing Specialist,  Amazon Web Services,  Client Delivery,  DevOps and Cloud. (The list just keeps on growing.)

Higher Apprenticeships:

In total there have been 2,642 new vacancies spread across 69 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: 

336 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

282 Software Developers 

197 Data Analysts

193 Sales Executives

185 Project Management Associates

111 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

102 Tax Technicians

  90 Investment Operations/Consulting

  78 Policy Officers

  69 Nursing Associates

  67 Software Testers 

  63 Insurance Professionals

  61 Network Engineers

  58 Civil Engineering Technicians

  57 Commercial Procurement & Supply Specialists

  54 Children, Young People & Family Practitioners

  46 Cyber Security Technologists/Analysts

  45 Construction Technicians/Site Supervisors

  44 Regulatory Compliance Professionals

  44 Technician Scientists

  41 Quantity Surveying Technicians 

  38 Junior Management Consultants

  34 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  33 Business Analysts 

  29 Public Relations Assistants  

  25 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  22 Buying & Merchandising (Fashion/Homewares)

  18 Human Resources Practitioners     

  16 Nuclear Technicians

  15 Construction Design & Build Technicians

  14 Digital Marketing Executives

  14 Food Technology/Engineering/Production  

  12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

  11 Automotive Engineering Technicians

  11 DevOps Engineers

  10 Marketing Assistants

    9 Financial Paraplanners/Advisers

    8 Automation & Control Engineers

    7 Brewers

    7 Housing & Property Management

    7 Internal Auditors

    7 Logistics & Supply Chain Specialists

    7 Mineral Products Technicians

    7 Retail Management

    6 Operations Management   

    5 Hearing Aid Dispensers

    5 Hospitality Management

    4 Actuarial Technicians

    4 Hygiene Specialists

    4 Learning & Development Practitioners   

    4 Learning & Skills Teachers 

    4 Social Care Leaders

    3 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

    2 Counter Fraud Investigators

    2 Paralegals

    2 Tax Technology Technicians

    1 Facilities Management

    1 Improvement Practitioner

    1 Intelligence Analyst

    1 Lettings Negotiator

    1 Lighting Designer

    1 Quality Practitioner

    1 Passenger Transport Management

    1 Recruitment Consultant

    1 Rehabilitation Officer (Visual Impairment) 

    1 Revenue & Benefits Officer    

    1 School Business Professional

    1 Sports Development Officer   

    1 Wedding Accessories Designer

Going forward

I intend to post another update next week.    

© Alan Bullock, 31/1/2021

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