49 weeks after the start of lockdown: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England continue to hold up well

Headline news and latest reflections

Coincidentally, Week 49 was especially notable for 49 degree apprenticeship vacancies posted by Dyson Institute in Wiltshire. However, I had already anticipated and recorded 45 of these earlier in the year, so I was only able to count the extra four in this week’s data. I should have been more patient.   

Otherwise, this week’s new vacancies were spread quite widely around the country. Morrisons posted multiple vacancies in Food Technology and Production at various sites in Yorkshire, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Lincolnshire, Derbyshire and Northants, while Ford Motor Company posted 20 in Automotive Engineering and Digital Technology in Essex and Farrans Construction had 15 in Civil Engineering and Quantity Surveying near Royston in Cambridgeshire.

Hence, with the East of England and East Midlands being quite prominent, my choice of seasonally-appropriate image to accompany this week’s update is a photo I took after a February speaking engagement in Lincolnshire. If you can work out where I was, do drop me an email.

Amongst the minority occupations, Week 49 was notable for four Clinical Trials Specialists, a Transport Planner, a Hearing Aid Dispenser and this week’s new entry, an Operating Department Practitioner. It’s always interesting to see what else is emerging.


Since the first ‘lockdown’ started on Monday 23rd March 2020, I’ve 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 22nd to 26th February, I recorded:

  • 96 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 47 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

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

  • In the 49 weeks prior to lockdown (15th April 2019 to 20th March 2020) I recorded 4,582 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 3,352 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 7,934 and an average of 162 new vacancies each week.
  • In the 49 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 26th February 2021) I have recorded 3,868 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 3,067 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 6,935 and an average of 142 new vacancies each week.  

This represents a 12.6% 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 of 2020 when the reduction reached 80%.

Updated regional analysis

My evolving regional data is broken down by county and region and every county in England is represented. The 6,935 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (1,638)
  • Yorkshire (666)
  • West Midlands (447)
  • Greater Manchester (379)
  • Gloucestershire & North Bristol (311)
  • Hampshire (254)
  • Berkshire (229)
  • Surrey (202)
  • Hertfordshire (184)
  • Lancashire (176)
  • Tyne & Wear (163)
  • Suffolk (158)
  • Nottinghamshire (147)
  • Cheshire (140)
  • Merseyside (138)
  • Cumbria (130)
  • Essex (128)
  • Cambridgeshire (123)
  • Sussex (112)
  • Wiltshire (100)
  • County Durham (97)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (89)
  • Devon (88)
  • Dorset (86)
  • Warwickshire (80)
  • Kent (73)
  • Northamptonshire (71)
  • Bedfordshire (65)
  • Oxfordshire (62)
  • Buckinghamshire (62)
  • Staffordshire (59)
  • Leicestershire (57)
  • Derbyshire (55)
  • Norfolk (42)
  • Lincolnshire (29)
  • Worcestershire (28)
  • Shropshire (26)
  • Isle of Wight (17)
  • Cornwall (8)
  • Herefordshire (6)
  • Northumberland (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 post-lockdown per 10,000 of total population. Crude maybe, but quite useful I think.  

  • 1,638   London (8,962,000: 1.828)
  • 1,011   South East (9,180,000: 1.101)
  •    963   North West (7,341,000: 1.312)
  •    700   East of England (6,236,000: 1.123)
  •    682   South West (5,625,000: 1.212)
  •    666   Yorkshire & Humber (5,503,000: 1.210)
  •    646   West Midlands (5,934,000: 1.089)
  •    359   East Midlands (4,836,000: 0.742)
  •    264   North East (2,670,000: 0.989)
  •        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 in March 2020, 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 3,868 new vacancies spread across 77 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £30,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

542 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

484 Digital Technology Solutions (general – *see below for details)

325 Police Constables

301 Software Engineers

217 Project Management

189 Chartered Management (general)

171 Civil Engineers

119 Data Scientists & Analysts

114 Product Design & Development Engineers

108 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

  92 Aerospace Engineers

  92 Food Technology & Production

  87 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

  75 Chartered Building/Property Surveyors  

  72 Network Engineers

  67 Logistics & Supply Chain Leadership

  66 Cyber Security Specialists

  53 Professional Economists 

  48 Financial Services Professionals

  42 Sales/Business Development Professionals

  41 Digital Marketing Professionals

  38 Laboratory Scientists

  37 Control Engineers

  37 Manufacturing Engineers

  35 Construction Management

  33 Nuclear Engineers

  31 Retail Management

  30 Nursing (20 Mental Health, 10 Adult)  

  28 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

  27 Manufacturing & Production Management (non-food)        

  24 Automotive Engineers

  21 Solicitors

  20 Building Services Design Engineers

  15 Digital User Experience (UX) Professionals

  14 Packaging Professionals

  13 Environmental Practitioners

  12 Clinical Trials Specialists

  11 Materials Scientists/Engineers/Technologists

  11 Weapons Munitions & Explosives Engineers

    9 Broadcast & Media Systems Engineers

    8 Chemical Engineers

    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 Operations Analysts

    4 Biomedical Healthcare Scientists

    4 Marketing Management

    4 Transport Planners

    3 Building Control Surveyors

    3 Clinical Physiologists (Neurophysiology)

    3 Compliance & Risk Specialists

    3 Diagnostic Radiographers

    2 Agricultural Advisers

    2 Electro-Mechanical Engineers

    2 Geospatial Mapping/Planning/Surveying

    2 Internal Auditors

    2 Occupational Therapists

    2 Tax Technologists

    1 Assistant Buyer

    1 Building Information Modelling Specialist (BIM)

    1 Charity Management

    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 Operating Department Practitioner

    1 Podiatrist

    1 Radiation Engineer (Healthcare)

    1 Visual Merchandiser

*Digital Technology Solutions (general) has encompassed the following specialisms, which are either not specified in the vacancy or apprentices are able to sample several of them:  

Software Engineering, Software Development, Software Testing, Network Engineering, Data Science, Data Analytics, Data Architecture & Integration, Network Architecture, Cyber & Information Security, IT Consultancy, Software Consultancy, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Systems Engineering, Business Systems Development, Project Management, Technology Management, Technology Operations & Service Delivery, Technology Architecture, Innovation Technologist, Innovation Design Analyst, Infrastructure Specialist, Solution Engineering & Development, Platform Management, 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 Engineering, Supervisory Control & Data Acquisition, Fixed Telecommunications. (The list keeps on growing.)

Higher Apprenticeships:

In total there have been 3,067 new vacancies spread across 71 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: 

360 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

330 Software Developers 

262 Project Management Associates

225 Data Analysts

211 Sales/Business Development Executives

135 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

103 Tax Technicians

  96 Investment Operations Specialists

  80 Policy Officers

  78 Network Engineers

  76 Construction Technicians/Site Supervisors

  71 Nursing Associates

  70 Commercial Procurement & Supply

  70 Software Testers 

  64 Insurance Professionals

  60 Children, Young People & Family Practitioners

  60 Technician Scientists

  58 Civil Engineering Technicians

  49 Cyber Security Technologists/Analysts

  49 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  46 Regulatory Compliance Professionals

  45 Quantity Surveying Technicians 

  42 Business Analysts 

  39 Junior Management Consultants

  34 Public Relations Assistants

  33 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  30 Human Resources Partners     

  28 Buying and Merchandising Specialists

  16 Food Technology/Engineering/Production  

  16 Nuclear Technicians

  15 Marketing Executives

  14 Digital Marketing Executives

  14 Fibre Cable Engineers

  13 Actuarial Technicians

  13 Mineral Products Technicians

  12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

  12 DevOps Engineers

  11 Automotive Engineering Technicians

  10 Financial Paraplanners/Advisers

    9 Automation & Control Engineers

    9 Housing & Property Management

    8 Naval Architects

    7 Brewers

    7 Internal Auditors

    7 Logistics & Supply Chain Specialists

    7 Retail Management

    6 Adult Social Care Leaders

    6 Hearing Aid Dispensers

    6 Operations Management   

    5 Hospitality Management

    5 Learning & Development Practitioners   

    4 Hygiene Specialists

    4 Learning & Skills Teachers 

    4 Quality Practitioners

    3 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

    2 Counter Fraud Investigators

    2 Improvement Practitioners

    2 Paralegals

    2 Tax Technology Technicians

    1 Chemical Process Technician

    1 Facilities Management

    1 Digital Communities Management

    1 Intelligence Analyst

    1 Lighting Designer

    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

All being well, I will publish a Week 50 update next weekend.

© Alan Bullock, 28/2/2021

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