55 weeks after the start of lockdown: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England remain steady

Headline news and latest reflections

I predicted at the end of last week’s blog that the immediate post-Easter period was likely to be relatively quiet. However, given that it was a four-day week too, the actual outcome was only slightly below par with 97 new vacancies recorded.

Once again it was also good to see the East Midlands punching above its weight, having hitherto been the region with the lowest number of vacancies per head of population. The prime locations this time were Nottingham with six vacancies and Daventry (Northamptonshire) with five. Hence, for the third consecutive week, my choice of photographic image is one from the East Midlands region. And for once it’s not one of my own, but comes courtesy of Nottingham-based photographer David Reed on Pixabay.

Occupationally there were no major developments this week. However, as each week passes my aggregated occupational analyses are becoming increasingly indicative of where the emerging careers are in a changing careers landscape. See below for the latest data.


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. I 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 which I adjust retrospectively if more precise 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’s immensely useful in guidance.

Headline data

During the latest 4-day week, from 6th to 9th April, I recorded:

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

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

  • In the 55 weeks prior to lockdown (4th March 2019 to 20th March 2020) I recorded 4,912 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 3,814 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 8,726 and an average of 159 new vacancies each week.
  • In the 55 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 9th April 2021) I’ve recorded 4,569 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 3,558 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 8,127 and an average of 148 new vacancies each week.  

This represents a 6.9% reduction in vacancies post-lockdown compared with pre-lockdown, which continues to be a massive improvement on the dire situation that prevailed during the spring and early-summer of 2020 when the reduction reached 80%.

Updated regional analysis

The 8,127 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (1,801)
  • Yorkshire (785)
  • West Midlands (522)
  • Greater Manchester (442)
  • Gloucestershire & North Bristol (345)
  • Berkshire (318)
  • Hampshire (302)
  • Surrey (230)
  • Hertfordshire (212)
  • Tyne & Wear (190)
  • Lancashire (189)
  • Nottinghamshire (177)
  • Cheshire (175)
  • Cambridgeshire (169)
  • Suffolk (165)
  • Merseyside (161)
  • Essex (152)
  • Sussex (140)
  • Cumbria (135)
  • Wiltshire (110)
  • County Durham (102)
  • Kent (102)
  • Leicestershire (101)
  • Devon (99)
  • Dorset (98)
  • Staffordshire (94)
  • Northamptonshire (94)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (94)
  • Oxfordshire (88)
  • Buckinghamshire (87)
  • Warwickshire (81)
  • Derbyshire (77)
  • Bedfordshire (69)
  • Norfolk (53)
  • Lincolnshire (47)
  • Worcestershire (44)
  • Shropshire (29)
  • Isle of Wight (19)
  • Cornwall (10)
  • Herefordshire (7)
  • Northumberland (6)
  • 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.   

  • 1,801   London (8,962,000: 2.01)
  • 1,286   South East (9,180,000: 1.40)
  • 1,102   North West (7,341,000: 1.50)
  •    820   East of England (6,236,000: 1.31)
  •    785   Yorkshire & Humber (5,503,000: 1.43)
  •    777   West Midlands (5,934,000: 1.31)
  •    756   South West (5,625,000: 1.34)
  •    496   East Midlands (4,836,000: 1.03)
  •    298   North East (2,670,000: 1.12)
  •        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 4,569 new vacancies spread across 84 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £30,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

621 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

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

334 Software Engineers

325 Police Constables

261 Adult Nurses

238 Chartered Management (general)

219 Project Management

189 Civil Engineers

136 Data Scientists & Analysts

115 Product Design & Development Engineers

112 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

107 Food Technology, Production & Manufacturing

105 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

  93 Aerospace Engineers

  87 Chartered Building/Property Surveyors  

  80 Logistics & Supply Chain Leadership

  75 Retail Leadership

  72 Network Engineers

  66 Cyber Security Specialists

  55 Financial Services Professionals

  54 Professional Economists 

  48 Digital Marketing Professionals

  45 Manufacturing Engineers

  45 Sales/Business Development Professionals

  44 Laboratory Scientists

  41 Construction Management

  40 Control Engineers

  34 Nuclear Engineers

  29 Manufacturing & Production Management (non-food)        

  28 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

  26 Solicitors

  25 Automotive Engineers

  22 Digital User Experience (UX) Professionals

  21 Building Services Design Engineers

  21 Operating Department Theatre Practitioners

  20 Clinical Trials Specialists

  20 Mental Health Nurses

  14 Environmental Practitioners

  14 Packaging Professionals

  13 Creative Digital Designers   

  12 Materials Scientists/Engineers/Technologists

  11 Weapons Munitions & Explosives Engineers

  10 Broadcast/Media Systems Engineers

  10 Internal Audit Professionals    

    8 Chemical Engineers

    8 Gas Transmission Engineers

    8 Gas Turbine Propulsion Engineers

    8 Human Resources Professionals  

    8 Town Planners

    6 Cardiac Physiologists

    6 Environmental Health Officers

    6 Non-Destructive Testing Engineers

    5 Operations Analysts

    5 Recruitment Professionals

    4 Biomedical Healthcare Scientists

    4 Digital Healthcare Scientists

    4 Marketing Management

    4 Transport Planners

    3 Building Control Surveyors

    3 Clinical Neurophysiologists

    3 Compliance & Risk Specialists

    3 Diagnostic Radiographers

    3 Geospatial Mapping

    3 Occupational Therapists

    2 Agricultural Advisers

    2 Architectural Assistants

    2 Digital Transformation Engineers

    2 Electro-Mechanical Engineers

    2 Podiatrists

    2 Tax Technologists

    1 Assistant Buyer

    1 Bioinformatician

    1 Building Information Modelling Specialist (BIM)

    1 Charity Management

    1 Chartered Legal Executive   

    1 Chartered Rural Surveyor

    1 Financial Journalist

    1 Human Performance Engineer 

    1 Learning Technologies Support Teacher

    1 Marine Engineer

    1 Midwife

    1 Radiation Engineer (Healthcare)

    1 Rehabilitation 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 Engineer, Software Developer, Software Tester, Network Engineer, Data Scientist, Data Analyst, Data Architecture & Integration, Network Architecture, Cyber & Information Security, IT Consultant, Software Consultant, Software Implementation Consultant, Business Intelligence, Business Systems Engineer, Business Systems Developer, 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, Business Analyst, Innovation Design Analyst, Global Mobility Analyst, Agile Analyst, Content Analyst, Scientific Computing Specialist, Amazon Web Services, Client Delivery, DevOps Engineer, Supervisory Control & Data Acquisition, Fixed Telecommunications.

Higher Apprenticeships:

In total there have been 3,558 new vacancies spread across 77 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £35,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

393 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

385 Software Developers 

291 Project Management Associates

288 Data Analysts

270 Sales/Business Development Executives

172 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

105 Tax Technicians

100 Investment Operations Specialists

  91 Network Engineers

  89 Nursing Associates

  87 Construction Technicians/Site Supervisors

  81 Policy Officers

  80 Software Testers 

  75 Commercial Procurement & Supply

  71 Technician Scientists

  64 Children, Young People & Family Practitioners

  64 Insurance Professionals

  59 Cyber Security Technologists/Analysts

  58 Civil Engineering Technicians

  50 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  49 Business Analysts 

  49 Regulatory Compliance Professionals

  46 Quantity Surveying Technicians 

  43 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  40 Public Relations Assistants

  39 Junior Management Consultants

  34 Marketing / Digital Marketing Executives

  32 Human Resources Partners     

  30 Food Technology, Engineering & Production  

  28 Buying and Merchandising Specialists

  19 Actuarial Technicians

  18 Nuclear Technicians

  15 Media Production Co-ordinators

  14 Fibre Cable Engineers

  14 Journalists

  14 Learning, Skills & Development Practitioners   

  13 Automation & Control Engineers

  13 DevOps Engineers

  13 Mineral Products Technicians

  12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

  11 Automotive Engineering Technicians

  11 Financial Paraplanners/Advisers   

  10 Hospitality Management

    9 Housing & Property Management

    8 Brewers

    8 Hygiene Specialists

    8 Naval Architects

    7 Adult Social Care Leaders

    7 Hearing Aid Dispensers

    7 Internal Auditors

    7 Logistics & Supply Chain Specialists

    7 Quality Practitioners

    7 Retail Management

    6 Operations Management   

    5 Improvement Practitioners

    3 Digital Communities Management

    3 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

    2 Counter Fraud Investigators

    2 Healthcare Assistant Practitioners

    2 Paralegals

    2 Phlebotomists

    2 Sports Coaches   

    2 Tax Technology Technicians

    1 Chemical Process Technician

    1 Facilities Management

    1 Intelligence Analyst

    1 Lighting Designer

    1 Medical Engineering Technician

    1 Passenger Transport Management

    1 Propulsion Technician

    1 Recruitment Consultant

    1 Rehabilitation Officer (Visual Impairment) 

    1 Revenue & Benefits Officer    

    1 School Business Professional

    1 Sports Development Officer   

    1 Textile Technician

    1 Wedding Accessories Designer

Going forward

All being well there will be another update next week.

© Alan Bullock, 11/4/2021

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