60 weeks after the start of lockdown: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England remain quite strong

Headline news and latest reflections

The upward trend that started last summer maintained its momentum yet again this week, with HAs doing especially well. Highlights included HAs for Cyber/Network Engineers and Ammunition Technicians with the British Army, the latter leading to the option of training as a Bomb Disposal Operator, and 30 vacancies for Policy Officers and Project Management Associates with the Ministry of Housing Communities & Local Government.

22 of the Ministry vacancies were located in Wolverhampton, and the West Midlands in general punched well above its weight. That’s my rational for selecting this week’s featured image, a study of the West Midlands hinterland taken from my 17th floor hotel room whilst on business in Birmingham in 2015. In all there were 27 vacancies in the region, including a further 4 in Droitwich and this week’s rarity – a DA in Hereford (specifically in Quantity Surveying with Balfour Beatty).

Other significant postings included 8 Digital Technology Solutions DAs with Crunch Accounting in Brighton and 8 DAs in Chartered Property or Building Surveying with Workman (4 in London, 2 in Manchester and 1 each in Birmingham and Milton Keynes).

Amongst this week’s updates I have also enhanced my ‘DTS General’ list at the end of the DA occupational analysis. I think it’s quite a useful way to explain what a DA in Digital Technology Solutions might lead to.

Behind the scenes, I’ve been having some interesting conversations with Careers colleagues around the country about what proportion of DAs and HAs are, in reality, taken up by 18/19-year-old school or college leavers. I think this opens up a can of worms that might be worthy of further debate in the weeks ahead, with a few different strands to take into account.


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 I personally find immensely useful in my guidance and schools presentations.

Headline data

During the latest week, from 10th to 14th May, I recorded:

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

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

  • In the 60 weeks prior to lockdown (28th January 2019 to 20th March 2020) I recorded 5,187 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 4,199 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 9,386 and an average of 156 new vacancies each week.
  • In the 60 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 14th May 2021) I’ve recorded 4,894 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 4,018 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 8,912 and an average of 149 new vacancies each week.  

This represents a 5.1% reduction in vacancies post-lockdown compared with pre-lockdown, which 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 8,912 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (2,002)
  • Yorkshire (850)
  • West Midlands (577)
  • Greater Manchester (478)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (380)
  • Hampshire (331)
  • Berkshire (320)
  • Hertfordshire (243)
  • Surrey (229)
  • Lancashire (205)
  • Tyne & Wear (200)
  • Nottinghamshire (195)
  • Cheshire (191)
  • Cambridgeshire (190)
  • Suffolk (173)
  • Essex (172)
  • Merseyside (169)
  • Sussex (148)
  • Cumbria (143)
  • Devon (119)
  • Leicestershire (118)
  • Wiltshire (113)
  • Dorset (112)
  • Oxfordshire (108)
  • County Durham (107)
  • Kent (105)
  • Northamptonshire (101)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (101)
  • Staffordshire (99)
  • Buckinghamshire (97)
  • Warwickshire (93)
  • Derbyshire (86)
  • Bedfordshire (78)
  • Norfolk (70)
  • Lincolnshire (56)
  • Worcestershire (47)
  • Shropshire (30)
  • Isle of Wight (30)
  • Cornwall (15)
  • Herefordshire (8)
  • Northumberland (6)
  • Rutland (1)
  • Not specified (16) 

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.

  • 2,002   London (8,962,000: 2.23)
  • 1,368   South East (9,180,000: 1.49)
  • 1,186   North West (7,341,000: 1.62)
  •    926   East of England (6,236,000: 1.48)
  •    854   West Midlands (5,934,000: 1.44)
  •    850   Yorkshire & Humber (5,503,000: 1.54)
  •    840   South West (5,625,000: 1.49)
  •    557   East Midlands (4,836,000: 1.15)
  •    313   North East (2,670,000: 1.17)
  •      16   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 4,894 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: 

642 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

553 Digital Technology Solutions (General) *see below for details

338 Software Engineers

327 Nurses (298 Adult, 22 Mental Health, 4 Learning Disability, 3 Children)

325 Police Constables

261 Chartered Management (General)

223 Project Management

209 Civil Engineers

155 Data Scientists/Analysts

128 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

121 Product Design & Development Engineers

114 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

109 Food Technology/Production /Manufacturing

  98 Chartered Building/Property Surveyors  

  93 Aerospace Engineers

  92 Logistics/Supply Chain Leadership

  75 Retail Leadership

  73 Network Engineers

  67 Cyber Security Specialists

  61 Digital Marketing Professionals

  58 Financial Services Professionals

  54 Professional Economists 

  51 Manufacturing Engineers

  47 Sales/Business Development Professionals

  45 Construction Management

  45 Laboratory Scientists

  40 Control Engineers

  34 Nuclear Engineers

  31 Building Services Design Engineers

  29 Manufacturing & Production Management (non-food)        

  29 Solicitors

  28 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

  26 Operating Department Theatre Practitioners

  25 Automotive 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    

    9 Human Resources Professionals  

    8 Gas Transmission Engineers

    8 Propulsion Engineers

    8 Town Planners

    8 Transport Planners

    6 Cardiac Physiologists

    6 Environmental Health Officers

    6 Geospatial Mapping/Surveying Professionals

    6 Non-Destructive Testing Engineers

    6 Occupational Therapists

    5 Operations Analysts

    5 Recruitment Professionals

    4 Biomedical Healthcare Scientists

    4 Chartered Rural Surveyors

    4 Diagnostic Radiographers

    4 Digital Healthcare Scientists

    4 Marketing Management

    4 Podiatrists

    3 Building Control Surveyors

    3 Clinical Neurophysiologists

    3 Compliance & Risk Specialists

    2 Agricultural Advisers

    2 Architectural Assistants

    2 Bioinformaticians

    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 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 or led to the following range of specialisms (list updated this week):   

Software Engineer, Software Developer, Software Tester, Network Engineer, Data Scientist, Data Analyst, Data Architect, Network Architect, Cyber Security Specialist, IT Support Analyst, IT Consultant, Solutions Consultant, Software Implementation Consultant, Software Consultant, Project Manager, Business Intelligence Specialist, Business Systems Engineer/Developer, Technology Architect, Technology Manager, Innovation Technologist, Innovation Design Analyst, Agile Analyst, Application Support Analyst, Business Analyst, Global Mobility Analyst, Content Analyst, User Experience Researcher, Junior Product Manager, Infrastructure Specialist, DevOps Engineer, Solutions Engineer, Cloud Engineer, Scientific Computing Specialist, Platform Manager, Amazon Web Services Specialist, Supervisory Control & Data Acquisition Specialist, Fixed Telecoms Specialist, IT Service Desk Analyst, Technology Operations & Service Delivery Specialist, Functional Consultant, Technical Consultant, Solution Engineering & Development Specialist, Client Delivery Specialist, Operations Resilience & Change Specialist. Some list!

Higher Apprenticeships:

In total there have been 4,018 new vacancies spread across 85 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £35,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

411 Software Developers 

409 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

331 Project Management Associates

317 Data Analysts

303 Sales/Business Development Executives

189 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

113 Nursing Associates (74 Adult, 39 Mental Health)

113 Policy Officers

111 Tax Technicians

102 Network Engineers

100 Investment Operations Specialists

  95 Construction Technicians/Site Supervisors

  94 Software Testers 

  85 Commercial Procurement & Supply

  79 Public Relations Assistants

  75 Cyber Security Technologists/Analysts

  75 Technician Scientists

  66 Children/Young People/Family Practitioners

  64 Insurance Professionals

  63 Civil Engineering Technicians

  60 Business Analysts 

  55 Regulatory Compliance Professionals

  53 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  53 Quantity Surveying Technicians 

  51 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  39 Junior Management Consultants

  35 Marketing / Digital Marketing Executives

  32 Human Resources Partners     

  31 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

  30 Food Technology/Engineering/Production  

  19 Actuarial Technicians

  18 Nuclear Technicians

  16 Automation & Control Engineers

  16 Media Production Co-ordinators

  15 DevOps Engineers

  14 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians

  14 Estate Agency Negotiators

  14 Fibre Cable Engineers

  14 Journalists

  14 Learning, Skills & Development Practitioners  

  14 Paraplanners/Financial Advisers   

  13 Mineral Products Technicians

  13 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

  12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

  12 Housing & Property Management

  12 School Sports Coaches   

  11 Audiology Associates/Hearing Aid Dispensers

  11 Hospitality Management

  10 Dairy Technologists

  10 Healthcare Associate Practitioners

    8 Brewers

    8 Internal Auditors

    8 Hygiene Specialists

    8 Naval Architects

    8 Operations Management   

    8 Quality Practitioners

    7 Adult Social Care Leaders

    7 Logistics/Supply Chain Specialists

    7 Retail Management

    6 Improvement Practitioners

    3 Digital Communities Management

    2 Clinical/Medical Engineers

    2 Communications Trouble Shooters

    2 Conveyancing Technicians

    2 Counter Fraud Investigators

    2 Medical Physics Technologists

    2 Paralegals

    2 Phlebotomists

    2 Rehabilitation Officers (Visual Impairment) 

    2 School Business Professionals

    2 Tax Technology Technicians

    1 Chemical Process Technician

    1 Community Energy Specialist

    1 Employability Practitioner

    1 Facilities Management

    1 Fitness Club Manager

    1 Intelligence Analyst

    1 Lighting Designer

    1 Passenger Transport Management

    1 Recruitment Consultant

    1 Revenue & Benefits Officer    

    1 Sports Development Officer   

    1 Textiles Technician

    1 Wedding Accessories Designer

    1 Welfare Benefits Practitioner

Going forward

All being well there will be a Week 61 update next week.

© Alan Bullock, 16/5/2021

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