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

Headline news and latest reflections

Once again it was a good week for new DA and HA vacancies, albeit with a little bit of extra help from the NHS jobs website. Recently I’ve noticed that health-related apprenticeships are starting to gain in prominence, but I do also stick to my rigid principle of only including NHS vacancies for which a work-ready Year 13 student or recent school or college-leaver could potentially be a realistic candidate.  

In general, the opportunities that stood out this week included:

  • 13 HAs for Mental Health Nursing Associates with Lancashire & South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust covering Preston, Blackburn, Blackpool, Chorley, Ormskirk, Heysham and Barrow
  • 10 Chartered Management DAs with leading consumer intelligence firm NeilsenIQ in Oxford
  • 8 DAs in Digital Technology Solutions with insurers Royal London Group in Wilmslow
  • 6 HAs for Project Management Associates with Portakabin in Leeds, York, Peterborough, Smethwick, Purfleet and Highbridge (Somerset)
  • 5 DAs for Quantity Surveyors with Currie & Brown in London
  • 5 HAs for Data Analysts with Microsoft in London
  • 4 HAs for Data Analysts with HSBC in Birmingham
  • 3 DAs for Chartered Rural Surveyors with Dalcour Maclaren near Bicester
  • 3 HAs for Tax Technicians with Macintyre Hudson in Peterborough
  • 3 DAs for Occupational Therapists and 2 for Physiotherapists with Kent Community Health NHS Trust in Canterbury, Maidstone, Tonbridge and Dartford.

There’s also something of a battle going on in my HA occupational analysis, with Software Developers now neck-and-neck with Accounting on 401. Such is my weekend entertainment these days. As ever, my occupational and regional data continues to tell an evolving story about what’s going on in the post-18 labour market.

And the location of this week’s choice of photographic image from my ‘private collection’ is Oxford. Not only were there 12 new vacancies in Oxford itself, but a further 5 in Oxfordshire (in Bicester, Banbury and Witney).  


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 26th April to 1st May, I recorded:

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

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

  • In the 58 weeks prior to lockdown (11th February 2019 to 20th March 2020) I recorded 5,077 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 4,045 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 9,122 and an average of 157 new vacancies each week.
  • In the 58 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 1st May 2021) I’ve recorded 4,754 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 3,832 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 8,586 and an average of 148 new vacancies each week.  

This represents a 5.9% reduction in vacancies post-lockdown compared with pre-lockdown, which nonetheless continues to show an ever-improving trend in comparison to the dire situation that prevailed during the spring and early-summer of 2020 when the reduction reached 80%.

Updated regional analysis

The 8,586 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (1,906)
  • Yorkshire (829)
  • West Midlands (545)
  • Greater Manchester (467)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (368)
  • Hampshire (321)
  • Berkshire (319)
  • Hertfordshire (236)
  • Surrey (228)
  • Lancashire (204)
  • Tyne & Wear (197)
  • Nottinghamshire (188)
  • Cambridgeshire (187)
  • Cheshire (185)
  • Suffolk (169)
  • Merseyside (164)
  • Essex (159)
  • Cumbria (143)
  • Sussex (137)
  • Devon (114)
  • Leicestershire (112)
  • Wiltshire (111)
  • Oxfordshire (107)
  • County Durham (104)
  • Kent (103)
  • Dorset (102)
  • Northamptonshire (100)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (98)
  • Staffordshire (97)
  • Buckinghamshire (93)
  • Derbyshire (82)
  • Warwickshire (81)
  • Bedfordshire (70)
  • Norfolk (67)
  • Lincolnshire (50)
  • Worcestershire (42)
  • Shropshire (30)
  • Isle of Wight (29)
  • Cornwall (14)
  • 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.

  • 1,906   London (8,962,000: 2.13)
  • 1,337   South East (9,180,000: 1.46)
  • 1,163   North West (7,341,000: 1.58)
  •    888   East of England (6,236,000: 1.42)
  •    829   Yorkshire & Humber (5,503,000: 1.51)
  •    807   South West (5,625,000: 1.43)
  •    802   West Midlands (5,934,000: 1.35)
  •    532   East Midlands (4,836,000: 1.10)
  •    307   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 4,754 new vacancies spread across 88 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £30,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

623 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

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

338 Software Engineers

325 Police Constables

324 Nurses (296 Adult, 22 Mental Health, 4 Learning Disability, 2 Children)

250 Chartered Management (general)

223 Project Management

196 Civil Engineers

149 Data Scientists/Analysts

121 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

119 Product Design & Development Engineers

114 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

108 Food Technology/Production /Manufacturing

  93 Aerospace Engineers

  89 Chartered Building/Property Surveyors  

  85 Logistics/Supply Chain Leadership

  75 Retail Leadership

  73 Network Engineers

  66 Cyber Security Specialists

  60 Digital Marketing Professionals

  57 Financial Services Professionals

  54 Professional Economists 

  46 Manufacturing Engineers

  46 Sales/Business Development Professionals

  45 Construction Management

  45 Laboratory Scientists

  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 Chemical Engineers

  10 Internal Audit Professionals    

    8 Gas Transmission Engineers

    8 Human Resources Professionals  

    8 Propulsion Engineers

    8 Town Planners

    6 Cardiac Physiologists

    6 Environmental Health Officers

    6 Non-Destructive Testing Engineers

    6 Occupational Therapists

    5 Operations Analysts

    5 Recruitment Professionals

    5 Transport Planners

    4 Biomedical Healthcare Scientists

    4 Chartered Rural Surveyors

    4 Diagnostic Radiographers

    4 Digital Healthcare Scientists

    4 Marketing Management

    3 Building Control Surveyors

    3 Clinical Neurophysiologists

    3 Compliance & Risk Specialists

    3 Geospatial Mapping Professionals

    3 Podiatrists

    2 Agricultural Advisers

    2 Architectural Assistants

    2 Chartered Legal Executives   

    2 Digital Transformation Engineers

    2 Electro-Mechanical Engineers

    2 Journalists

    2 Medical Physics Technologists

    2 Physiotherapists

    2 Social Workers

    2 Tax Technologists

    1 Assistant Buyer

    1 Audiologist

    1 Bioinformatician

    1 Building Information Modelling Specialist (BIM)

    1 Charity Management

    1 Human Performance Engineer 

    1 Learning Technologies Support Teacher

    1 Marine Engineer

    1 Midwife

    1 Nuclear Medicine Technologist

    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, IT Service Desk Analyst, DevOps Engineer, Scientific Computing Specialist, Operations Resilience & Change, Amazon Web Services, Client Delivery, Supervisory Control & Data Acquisition, Fixed Telecommunications.

Higher Apprenticeships:

In total there have been 3,832 new vacancies spread across 82 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £35,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

401 Software Developers 

401 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

312 Project Management Associates

309 Data Analysts

293 Sales/Business Development Executives

180 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

110 Tax Technicians

107 Nursing Associates (68 Adult, 39 Mental Health)

100 Investment Operations Specialists

  96 Network Engineers

  93 Construction Technicians/Site Supervisors

  83 Commercial Procurement & Supply

  83 Policy Officers

  82 Software Testers 

  77 Public Relations Assistants

  72 Technician Scientists

  68 Cyber Security Technologists/Analysts

  65 Children/Young People/Family Practitioners

  64 Insurance Professionals

  63 Civil Engineering Technicians

  54 Business Analysts 

  52 Quantity Surveying Technicians 

  51 Regulatory Compliance Professionals

  50 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  50 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  39 Junior Management Consultants

  34 Marketing / Digital Marketing Executives

  32 Human Resources Partners     

  30 Food Technology/Engineering/Production  

  28 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

  19 Actuarial Technicians

  18 Nuclear Technicians

  15 DevOps Engineers

  15 Media Production Co-ordinators

  14 Automation & Control Engineers

  14 Fibre Cable Engineers

  14 Journalists

  14 Learning, Skills & Development Practitioners  

  13 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians

  13 Estate Agency Negotiators

  13 Mineral Products Technicians

  13 Paraplanners/Financial Advisers   

  12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

  11 Audiology Associates/Hearing Aid Dispensers

  10 Dairy Technologists

  10 Healthcare Associate Practitioners

  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

    6 Improvement Practitioners

    6 Sports Coaches   

    3 Digital Communities Management

    3 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

    2 Communications Trouble Shooters

    2 Conveyancing Technicians

    2 Counter Fraud Investigators

    2 Paralegals

    2 Phlebotomists

    2 Rehabilitation Officers (Visual Impairment) 

    2 School Business Professionals

    2 Tax Technology Technicians

    1 Chemical Process Technician

    1 Employability Practitioner

    1 Facilities Management

    1 Fitness Club Manager

    1 Intelligence Analyst

    1 Lighting Designer

    1 Medical Engineering Technician

    1 Passenger Transport Management

    1 Recruitment Consultant

    1 Revenue & Benefits Officer    

    1 Sports Development Officer   

    1 Textiles Technician

    1 Wedding Accessories Designer

Going forward

All being well there will be another update next week.

© Alan Bullock, 3/5/2021

One thought on “58 weeks after the start of lockdown: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England still doing well

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