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

Headline news and latest reflections

This week I recorded 148 new DA and HA vacancies, which exactly matches the average figure for the whole 57-week period since lockdown first started in March 2020.

On this occasion 73% of the new vacancies were HAs. However, across all 57 weeks the ratio has been 56:44 in favour of DAs.

The opportunities that stood out this week included:

  • 36 HAs for Public Relations Assistants, 35 of which were with government departments. These included 30 with the Cabinet Office in London, 3 with HMRC in Newcastle, Manchester and Nottingham, 1 with the DWP in Sheffield and 1 with the Met Office in Exeter.
  • 10 HAs for Dairy Technologists with Arla Foods Ingredients in Leeds, Settle, Melton Mowbray, Aylesbury, Enfield and North Tawton (Devon).*
  • 8 DAs for Data Analysts with Bloomberg in London.
  • 7 HAs for Cyber Security Technologists with Energus, a centre of excellence for conferences, skills and training based near Workington in Cumbria.
  • 6 HAs for Sales Executives with BT in Manchester.
  • 5 DAs for NHS Operating Department Practitioners at Southmead Hospital in Bristol.

As ever, it’s intriguing to get a sense of what’s emerging occupationally as well as the geographical spread. Cumbria and Devon were top of the ‘punching above their weight’ category, but otherwise London was somewhat dominant this week. Therefore, the seat of government gets the nod in the choice of photographic image from my ‘collection’.  

*PS There has subsequently been a little uncertainty about the number of Dairy Technology positions, as I’ve since noticed that the first of two Arla Foods vacancy postings has since been taken down. Hence this might need to be revised retrospectively. Nonetheless, I always like seeing unusual opportunities like this get a mention in dispatches and Melton Mowbray in particular has been something of a hive of activity in recent weeks. If I gave a prize to an individual town for punching above its weight, Melton Mowbray would certainly be a hot contender.


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 19th to 23rd April, I recorded:

  • 40 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 108 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

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

  • In the 57 weeks prior to lockdown (18th February 2019 to 20th March 2020) I recorded 5,022 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 3,968 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 8,990 and an average of 158 new vacancies each week.
  • In the 57 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 23rd April 2021) I’ve recorded 4,687 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 3,754 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 8,441 and an average of 148 new vacancies each week.  

This represents a 6.1% 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 8,441 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (1,883)
  • Yorkshire (814)
  • West Midlands (532)
  • Greater Manchester (465)
  • Gloucestershire & North Bristol (362)
  • Berkshire (319)
  • Hampshire (318)
  • Hertfordshire (231)
  • Surrey (227)
  • Tyne & Wear (196)
  • Lancashire (190)
  • Nottinghamshire (185)
  • Cambridgeshire (182)
  • Cheshire (175)
  • Suffolk (169)
  • Merseyside (163)
  • Essex (155)
  • Cumbria (142)
  • Sussex (137)
  • Leicestershire (111)
  • Wiltshire (111)
  • Devon (111)
  • County Durham (104)
  • Dorset (102)
  • Northamptonshire (98)
  • Kent (98)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (98)
  • Staffordshire (96)
  • Buckinghamshire (93)
  • Oxfordshire (90)
  • Warwickshire (81)
  • Derbyshire (79)
  • Bedfordshire (70)
  • Norfolk (66)
  • Lincolnshire (47)
  • Worcestershire (42)
  • Shropshire (30)
  • Isle of Wight (29)
  • Cornwall (12)
  • 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.   

  • 1,883   London (8,962,000: 2.10)
  • 1,311   South East (9,180,000: 1.43)
  • 1,135   North West (7,341,000: 1.55)
  •   873   East of England (6,236,000: 1.40)
  •   814   Yorkshire & Humber (5,503,000: 1.48)
  •   796   South West (5,625,000: 1.42)
  •   788   West Midlands (5,934,000: 1.33)
  •   520   East Midlands (4,836,000: 1.08)
  •   306   North East (2,670,000: 1.15)
  •     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 4,687 new vacancies spread across 86 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £30,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

622 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

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

336 Software Engineers

325 Police Constables

323 Nurses (295 Adult, 22 Mental Health, 4 Learning Disability, 2 Child)

240 Chartered Management (general)

220 Project Management

194 Civil Engineers

147 Data Scientists & Analysts

117 Product Design & Development Engineers

114 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

111 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

107 Food Technology, Production & Manufacturing

  93 Aerospace Engineers

  89 Chartered Building/Property Surveyors  

  85 Logistics & Supply Chain Leadership

  75 Retail Leadership

  72 Network Engineers

  66 Cyber Security Specialists

  58 Digital Marketing Professionals

  57 Financial Services Professionals

  54 Professional Economists 

  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 Operating Department Theatre Practitioners

  26 Solicitors

  25 Automotive Engineers

  25 Building Services Design Engineers

  22 Digital User Experience (UX) Professionals

  20 Clinical Trials Specialists

  15 Environmental Practitioners

  14 Creative Digital Designers   

  14 Materials Science Technologists

  14 Packaging Professionals

  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

    5 Transport Planners

    4 Biomedical Healthcare Scientists

    4 Diagnostic Radiographers

    4 Digital Healthcare Scientists

    4 Marketing Management

    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 Social Workers

    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 3,754 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: 

399 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

396 Software Developers 

302 Project Management Associates

299 Data Analysts

289 Sales/Business Development Executives

178 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

105 Tax Technicians

100 Investment Operations Specialists

  94 Network Engineers

  92 Nursing Associates

  91 Construction Technicians/Site Supervisors

  83 Commercial Procurement & Supply

  82 Policy Officers

  82 Software Testers 

  76 Public Relations Assistants

  71 Technician Scientists

  67 Cyber Security Technologists/Analysts

  65 Children, Young People & Family Practitioners

  64 Insurance Professionals

  62 Civil Engineering Technicians

  53 Business Analysts 

  51 Quantity Surveying Technicians 

  50 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  50 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  50 Regulatory Compliance Professionals

  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 Automation & Control Engineers

  14 DevOps Engineers

  14 Fibre Cable Engineers

  14 Journalists

  14 Learning, Skills & Development Practitioners   

  13 Estate Agency Negotiators

  13 Mineral Products Technicians

  12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

  11 Automotive Engineering Technicians

  11 Financial Paraplanners/Advisers   

  10 Dairy Technologists

  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

    8 Operations Management   

    7 Adult Social Care Leaders

    7 Logistics & Supply Chain Specialists

    7 Quality Practitioners

    7 Retail Management

    5 Improvement Practitioners

    5 Sports Coaches   

    3 Digital Communities Management

    3 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

    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, 25/4/2021

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