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

Headline news and latest reflections

It’s been another positive week, with a good spread of new vacancies both occupationally and regionally.

The most prolific occupations were Project Management with 28 new vacancies (2 DAs and 26 HAs) and Quantity Surveying with 27 (25 DAs and 2 HAs). The most prominent locations were Watford (16), Norwich (15), Bristol (12) and Nottingham (11). 15 of the Watford vacancies were HAs in Buying & Merchandising at TJX, parent company of TK Maxx, while all 15 Norwich vacancies were Quantity Surveying DAs with the Carter construction group whose activities are based mainly in East Anglia.

I also had to weigh up whether to count 29 new Nursing Associate HA vacancies on Merseyside, but they clearly demanded at least 12 months’ experience and therefore couldn’t realistically be included on the basis of the criteria I use.  

One other random but mildly interesting twist this week was the appearance of unrelated vacancies in Bath, Chard, Ilminster, Street and Yeovil in Somerset and Swindon, Calne and Devizes in Wiltshire. And continuing the recent ongoing trend, there were also a further 3 HAs for Sports Coaches yet again based in schools around Leicester.

Regarding this week’s featured image, regular readers may be surprised to know that my photographic collection includes one I took of the sun rising over Watford Junction. However, my Norwich photos are a little more striking and hence it’s my impression of willow trees overhanging the River Wensum in Norwich that gets the nod on this occasion.


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 only include vacancies that a ‘work-ready’ 18/19-year-old seeking their first permanent role could reasonably apply for, whether at the point of leaving school/college or after a few months of temporary experience.

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 17th to 21st May, I recorded:

  • 84 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 137 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

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

  • In the 61 weeks prior to lockdown (21st January 2019 to 20th March 2020) I recorded 5,242 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 4,276 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 9,518 and an average of 156 new vacancies each week.
  • In the 61 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 21st May 2021) I’ve recorded 4,978 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 4,155 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 9,133 and an average of 150 new vacancies each week.  

This represents a 4.0% 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 9,133 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (2,048)
  • Yorkshire (858)
  • West Midlands (587)
  • Greater Manchester (493)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (393)
  • Hampshire (336)
  • Berkshire (325)
  • Hertfordshire (264)
  • Surrey (233)
  • Lancashire (210)
  • Nottinghamshire (206)
  • Tyne & Wear (203)
  • Cambridgeshire (195)
  • Cheshire (194)
  • Essex (176)
  • Suffolk (173)
  • Merseyside (172)
  • Sussex (156)
  • Cumbria (147)
  • Leicestershire (123)
  • Devon (119)
  • Wiltshire (118)
  • Oxfordshire (113)
  • Dorset (112)
  • County Durham (108)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (108)
  • Kent (107)
  • Northamptonshire (103)
  • Staffordshire (102)
  • Buckinghamshire (97)
  • Warwickshire (94)
  • Derbyshire (87)
  • Norfolk (85)
  • Bedfordshire (78)
  • Lincolnshire (56)
  • Worcestershire (47)
  • Shropshire (31)
  • 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.

  • 2,048   London (8,962,000: 2.29)
  • 1,397   South East (9,180,000: 1.52)
  • 1,216   North West (7,341,000: 1.66)
  •    971   East of England (6,236,000: 1.56)
  •    869   West Midlands (5,934,000: 1.46)
  •    865   South West (5,625,000: 1.54)
  •    858   Yorkshire & Humber (5,503,000: 1.56)
  •    576   East Midlands (4,836,000: 1.19)
  •    317   North East (2,670,000: 1.19)
  •      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 4,978 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: 

648 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

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

344 Software Engineers

328 Nurses (298 Adult, 23 Mental Health, 4 Learning Disability, 3 Children)

325 Police Constables

263 Chartered Management (General)

225 Project Management

213 Civil Engineers

155 Data Scientists/Analysts

153 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

123 Product Design & Development Engineers

117 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

109 Food Technology/Production /Manufacturing

100 Chartered Building/Property Surveyors  

  93 Aerospace Engineers

  93 Logistics/Supply Chain Leadership

  75 Retail Leadership

  73 Network Engineers

  70 Cyber Security Professionals

  62 Digital Marketing Professionals

  58 Financial Services Professionals

  54 Professional Economists 

  51 Manufacturing Engineers

  49 Sales/Business Development Professionals

  46 Laboratory Scientists

  45 Construction Management

  40 Control Engineers

  36 Nuclear Engineers

  35 Building Services Design Engineers

  29 Manufacturing & Production Management (non-food)        

  29 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

  29 Solicitors

  26 Operating Department Theatre Practitioners

  25 Automotive Engineers

  22 Digital User Experience (UX) Professionals

  20 Clinical Trials Specialists

  16 Environmental Practitioners

  14 Creative Digital Designers   

  14 Materials Science Technologists

  14 Packaging Professionals

  12 Weapons Munitions & Explosives Engineers

  10 Broadcast/Media Systems Engineers

  10 Chemical Engineers

  10 Clinical Physiologists (6 Cardiac, 4 Neuro)

  10 Internal Audit Professionals    

    9 Human Resources Professionals  

    8 Gas Transmission Engineers

    8 Propulsion Engineers

    8 Town Planners

    8 Transport Planners

    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 Compliance & Risk Specialists

    2 Agricultural Advisers

    2 Assistant Architects

    2 Assistant Teachers

    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, Automation 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 4,155 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: 

427 Software Developers 

417 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

357 Project Management Associates

335 Data Analysts

310 Sales/Business Development Executives

192 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

115 Nursing Associates

115 Policy Officers

114 Tax Technicians

103 Network Engineers

100 Investment Operations Specialists

  98 Construction Technicians/Site Supervisors

  95 Software Testers 

  85 Commercial Procurement & Supply

  81 Public Relations Assistants

  77 Technician Scientists

  76 Cyber Security Technologists/Analysts

  68 Children/Young People/Family Practitioners

  64 Insurance Professionals

  63 Civil Engineering Technicians

  61 Business Analysts 

  56 Regulatory Compliance Professionals

  55 Quantity Surveying Technicians 

  53 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  51 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  47 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

  39 Junior Management Consultants

  37 Marketing / Digital Marketing Executives

  33 Human Resources Partners     

  32 Food Technology/Engineering/Production  

  19 Actuarial Technicians

  18 Nuclear Technicians

  17 Automation & Control Engineers

  16 DevOps Engineers

  16 Media Production Co-ordinators

  15 Estate Agency Negotiators

  15 Financial Advisers / Paraplanners

  15 Learning, Skills & Development Practitioners  

  15 School Sports Coaches   

  14 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians

  14 Fibre Cable Engineers

  14 Journalists

  13 Mineral Products Technicians

  13 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

  12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

  12 Housing & Property Management

  11 Audiology Associates/Hearing Aid Dispensers

  11 Hospitality Management

  11 Quality Practitioners

  10 Dairy Technologists

  10 Healthcare Associate Practitioners

    9 Internal Auditors

    9 Operations Management   

    9 Retail Management

    8 Brewers

    8 Hygiene Specialists

    8 Naval Architects

    7 Adult Social Care Leaders

    7 Logistics/Supply Chain Specialists

    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

I’ve got sufficient data to keep this format going until the end of this term. Thereafter, I’ll probably look at a different approach that will enable me to continue putting some useful LMI out there in the future.

© Alan Bullock, 23/5/2021

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