56 weeks after the start of lockdown: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England still doing well

Headline news and latest reflections

This week saw a steady flow of new vacancies, boosted by an increased number of Adult Nursing DAs with Spire Healthcare. It’s clear from their job spec that, whilst the Nursing vacancies are not directly targeted at school or college leavers, a work-ready 18/19-year-old would certainly not be discouraged from applying.  

When I first researched and recorded the Spire vacancies a couple of weeks ago, I used my editorial licence to give a conservative estimate of numbers (245) and divided them equally across their 35 hospitals, all of whom I knew were recruiting. Subsequently, over the course of this week, I was pleased to see the vacancies for all 35 locations posted individually on the government apprenticeships website, with the precise number of vacancies for each hospital given. These ranged from 4 to 16 and the total amounted to 274, an increase of 29. I’ve therefore added the 29 additional vacancies into this week’s data and I’ve also adjusted the regional figures accordingly.

Other highlights included 13 new HA vacancies for Estate Agency Negotiators, all in different locations across Norfolk and Suffolk. In fact, Norfolk in particular punched above its weight this week, with a total of 12 assorted new vacancies in Norwich, Fakenham, Diss, Swaffham, Downham Market, King’s Lynn, Hunstanton, Dereham, Aylsham and Gorleston. Hence, this week’s obscure photographic image is one I took a few years ago on the Norfolk coast.  

Meanwhile, my occupational analyses just keep on evolving and a quick scan through them gives, I think, an increasingly fascinating insight into what’s out there and what’s 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. 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 week, from 12th to 16th April, I recorded:

  • 78 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 88 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

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

  • In the 56 weeks prior to lockdown (25th February 2019 to 20th March 2020) I recorded 4,967 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 3,891 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 8,858 and an average of 158 new vacancies each week.
  • In the 56 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 16th April 2021) I’ve recorded 4,647 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 3,646 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 8,293 and an average of 148 new vacancies each week.  

This represents a 6.4% 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 8,293 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (1,820)
  • Yorkshire (800)
  • West Midlands (529)
  • Greater Manchester (454)
  • Gloucestershire & North Bristol (355)
  • Berkshire (318)
  • Hampshire (315)
  • Hertfordshire (229)
  • Surrey (227)
  • Tyne & Wear (193)
  • Lancashire (189)
  • Nottinghamshire (180)
  • Cambridgeshire (177)
  • Cheshire (174)
  • Suffolk (169)
  • Merseyside (162)
  • Essex (154)
  • Sussex (136)
  • Cumbria (135)
  • Wiltshire (110)
  • Leicestershire (109)
  • Devon (105)
  • County Durham (104)
  • Dorset (101)
  • Northamptonshire (98)
  • Kent (98)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (97)
  • Staffordshire (96)
  • Buckinghamshire (92)
  • Oxfordshire (89)
  • Warwickshire (81)
  • Derbyshire (78)
  • Bedfordshire (69)
  • Norfolk (65)
  • Lincolnshire (47)
  • Worcestershire (42)
  • Shropshire (29)
  • Isle of Wight (29)
  • Cornwall (10)
  • Herefordshire (7)
  • Northumberland (6)
  • Not specified (15) 

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.   

  • 1,820   London (8,962,000: 2.03)
  • 1,304   South East (9,180,000: 1.42)
  • 1,114   North West (7,341,000: 1.52)
  •    863   East of England (6,236,000: 1.38)
  •    800   Yorkshire & Humber (5,503,000: 1.45)
  •    784   West Midlands (5,934,000: 1.31)
  •    778   South West (5,625,000: 1.38)
  •    512   East Midlands (4,836,000: 1.06)
  •    303   North East (2,670,000: 1.13)
  •      15   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 4,647 new vacancies spread across 85 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

506 Digital Technology Solutions (general) *see below for details

335 Software Engineers

325 Police Constables

321 Nurses (293 Adult, 22 Mental Health, 4 Learning Disability, 2 Child)

239 Chartered Management (general)

219 Project Management

192 Civil Engineers

139 Data Scientists & Analysts

117 Product Design & Development Engineers

112 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

108 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

107 Food Technology, Production & Manufacturing

  93 Aerospace Engineers

  88 Chartered Building/Property Surveyors  

  85 Logistics & Supply Chain Leadership

  75 Retail Leadership

  72 Network Engineers

  66 Cyber Security Specialists

  57 Financial Services Professionals

  54 Professional Economists 

  51 Digital Marketing Professionals

  46 Manufacturing Engineers

  46 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

  23 Building Services Design Engineers

  22 Digital User Experience (UX) Professionals

  21 Operating Department Theatre Practitioners

  20 Clinical Trials Specialists

  15 Environmental Practitioners

  14 Creative Digital Designers   

  14 Packaging Professionals

  13 Materials Science 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 Diagnostic Radiographers

    4 Digital Healthcare Scientists

    4 Marketing Management

    4 Transport Planners

    3 Building Control Surveyors

    3 Clinical Neurophysiologists

    3 Compliance & Risk Specialists

    3 Geospatial Mapping

    3 Occupational Therapists

    3 Podiatrists

    2 Agricultural Advisers

    2 Architectural Assistants

    2 Chartered Legal Executives   

    2 Digital Transformation Engineers

    2 Electro-Mechanical Engineers

    2 Tax Technologists

    1 Assistant Buyer

    1 Audiologist

    1 Bioinformatician

    1 Building Information Modelling Specialist (BIM)

    1 Charity Management

    1 Chartered Rural Surveyor

    1 Financial Journalist

    1 Human Performance Engineer 

    1 Learning Technologies Support Teacher

    1 Marine Engineer

    1 Medical Physics Technologist

    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, Infrastructure Specialist, Solution Engineering & Development, Platform Management, Junior Product Management, User Experience Researcher, Technology Management, Technology Operations & Service Delivery, Technology Architecture, Innovation Technologist, Innovation Design Analyst,  Business Analyst,  Application Support 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 3,646 new vacancies spread across 79 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £35,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

398 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

392 Software Developers 

297 Project Management Associates

294 Data Analysts

280 Sales/Business Development Executives

176 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

105 Tax Technicians

100 Investment Operations Specialists

  93 Network Engineers

  91 Nursing Associates

  88 Construction Technicians/Site Supervisors

  81 Policy Officers

  81 Software Testers 

  78 Commercial Procurement & Supply

  71 Technician Scientists

  64 Children, Young People & Family Practitioners

  64 Insurance Professionals

  60 Cyber Security Technologists/Analysts

  58 Civil Engineering Technicians

  52 Business Analysts 

  50 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  50 Regulatory Compliance Professionals

  48 Quantity Surveying Technicians 

  47 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 DevOps Engineers

  14 Fibre Cable Engineers

  14 Journalists

  14 Learning, Skills & Development Practitioners   

  13 Automation & Control Engineers

  13 Estate Agency Negotiators

  13 Mineral Products Technicians

  12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

  11 Automotive Engineering Technicians

  11 Financial Paraplanners/Advisers   

  10 Healthcare Associate Practitioners

  10 Hearing Aid Dispensers

  10 Hospitality Management

  10 Housing & Property Management

    8 Brewers

    8 Internal Auditors

    8 Hygiene Specialists

    8 Naval Architects

    7 Adult Social Care Leaders

    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

    3 Sports Coaches   

    2 Counter Fraud Investigators

    2 Paralegals

    2 Phlebotomists

    2 Rehabilitation Officers (Visual Impairment) 

    2 Tax Technology Technicians

    1 Chemical Process Technician

    1 Facilities Management

    1 Fitness Club Manager

    1 Intelligence Analyst

    1 Lighting Designer

    1 Medical Engineering Technician

    1 Passenger Transport Management

    1 Propulsion Technician

    1 Recruitment Consultant

    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, 18/4/2021

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