62 weeks after the start of lockdown: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England remain solid

Headline news and latest reflections

This week’s highlights included a further 26 new HAs in Data Analytics, which continues to be a very substantial growth area, and nine DAs in Town Planning. Six of the latter were with Arcadis in Bristol, two were with Nexus Planning (one in Reading and one in London) and one was with Bagshaw’s in Ashbourne (Derbyshire). Since the first lockdown I have now recorded 17 DAs in Town Planning and a further nine in Transport Planning; there was another one of those this week too, with Waterman Infrastructure & Environment in Birmingham.

A notable aspect of this is that Town Planning apprenticeships overall have been split between the private sector (9 vacancies) and local authorities (8), whilst all nine Transport Planners have been with corporate employers or SMEs. This week also saw six new DAs for Environmental Practitioners and one for a Geospatial specialist. Again, all of these were in Bristol with Arcadis, who are global leaders in ‘design and consultancy for the natural and built environment’.

With a total of 19 vacancies altogether, Bristol has claimed the right to this week’s featured image with a photo from my ‘private collection’. Meanwhile Worcestershire (11 vacancies) and the town of Swadlincote in Derbyshire (with two unrelated HAs for a School Sports Coach and a Construction Technician) both win a special consolation prize for punching above their weight.     


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 including NHS Careers. 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 school/college presentations.

Headline data

During the latest week, from 24th to 28th May, I recorded:

  • 68 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 62 weeks prior to lockdown (14th January 2019 to 20th March 2020) I recorded 5,297 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 4,353 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 9,650 and an average of 156 new vacancies each week.
  • In the 62 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 28th May 2021) I’ve recorded 5,046 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 4,263 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 9,309 and an average of 150 new vacancies each week.  

This represents a 3.5% 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 9,309 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (2,089)
  • Yorkshire (881)
  • West Midlands (595)
  • Greater Manchester (499)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (412)
  • Hampshire (338)
  • Berkshire (330)
  • Hertfordshire (266)
  • Surrey (237)
  • Lancashire (213)
  • Nottinghamshire (210)
  • Tyne & Wear (205)
  • Cheshire (197)
  • Cambridgeshire (195)
  • Essex (179)
  • Suffolk (177)
  • Merseyside (174)
  • Sussex (156)
  • Cumbria (147)
  • Leicestershire (125)
  • Wiltshire (123)
  • Devon (122)
  • Oxfordshire (116)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (113)
  • Dorset (112)
  • Northamptonshire (109)
  • Kent (109)
  • County Durham (108)
  • Staffordshire (102)
  • Buckinghamshire (99)
  • Warwickshire (95)
  • Derbyshire (91)
  • Norfolk (85)
  • Bedfordshire (78)
  • Worcestershire (58)
  • Lincolnshire (56)
  • Shropshire (31)
  • Isle of Wight (30)
  • Cornwall (15)
  • Herefordshire (9)
  • 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.

  • 2,089   London (8,962,000: 2.33)
  • 1,415   South East (9,180,000: 1.54)
  • 1,230   North West (7,341,000: 1.68)
  •    980   East of England (6,236,000: 1.57)
  •    897   South West (5,625,000: 1.59)
  •    890   West Midlands (5,934,000: 1.50)
  •    881   Yorkshire & Humber (5,503,000: 1.60)
  •    592   East Midlands (4,836,000: 1.22)
  •    319   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 5,046 new vacancies spread across 87 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £30,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

653 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

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

347 Software Engineers

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

325 Police Constables

268 Chartered Management (General)

225 Project Management

216 Civil Engineers

158 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

155 Data Scientists/Analysts

125 Product Design & Development Engineers

117 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

109 Food Technology/Production /Manufacturing

104 Chartered Building/Property Surveyors  

  94 Logistics/Supply Chain Leadership

  93 Aerospace Engineers

  75 Retail Leadership

  74 Cyber Security Professionals

  73 Network Engineers

  63 Digital Marketing Professionals

  59 Financial Services Professionals

  54 Professional Economists 

  53 Manufacturing Engineers

  50 Sales/Business Development Professionals

  46 Construction Management

  46 Laboratory Scientists

  40 Control Engineers

  38 Building Services Design Engineers 

  36 Nuclear Engineers

  30 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

  30 Solicitors

  29 Manufacturing & Production Management (non-food)        

  26 Operating Department Theatre Practitioners

  25 Automotive Engineers

  22 Digital User Experience (UX) Professionals

  22 Environmental Practitioners

  20 Clinical Trials Specialists

  17 Town Planners

  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 Human Resources Professionals  

  10 Internal Audit Professionals    

    9 Transport Planners    

    8 Gas Transmission Engineers

    8 Propulsion Engineers

    7 Geospatial Mapping/Surveying Professionals

    6 Environmental Health Officers

    6 Non-Destructive Testing Engineers

    6 Occupational Therapists

    5 Marketing Management

    5 Operations Analysts

    5 Recruitment Professionals

    5 Social Workers 

    4 Biomedical Healthcare Scientists

    4 Chartered Rural Surveyors

    4 Clinical/Medical Engineers

    4 Diagnostic Radiographers

    4 Digital Healthcare Scientists

    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 Nuclear Medicine Technologists

    2 Physiotherapists

    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 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 4,263 new vacancies spread across 88 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £35,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

435 Software Developers 

423 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

364 Project Management Associates

361 Data Analysts

314 Sales Executives

196 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

120 Nursing Associates

115 Policy Officers

114 Tax Technicians

104 Network Engineers

100 Investment Operations Specialists

  99 Construction Technicians/Site Supervisors

  95 Software Testers 

  87 Commercial Procurement & Supply

  85 Public Relations Assistants

  78 Technician Scientists

  77 Cyber Security Technologists/Analysts

  68 Children/Young People/Family Practitioners

  64 Insurance Professionals

  64 Civil Engineering Technicians

  61 Building Services Engineering Technicians 

  61 Business Analysts 

  56 Quantity Surveying Technicians 

  56 Regulatory Compliance Professionals

  54 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  47 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

  39 Junior Management Consultants

  37 Marketing / Digital Marketing Executives

  33 Food Technology/Engineering/Production  

  33 Human Resources Partners     

  20 Nuclear Technicians

  19 Actuarial Technicians

  19 Sports Coaches   

  17 Automation & Control Engineers

  17 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians 

  17 DevOps Engineers

  16 Media Production Co-ordinators

  15 Estate Agency Negotiators

  15 Financial Advisers / Paraplanners

  15 Learning, Skills & Development Practitioners  

  14 Fibre Cable Engineers

  14 Journalists

  13 Mineral Products Technicians

  13 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

  13 Retail Management

  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   

    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

    3 Employability Practitioner

    3 Railway Engineering Technicians

    3 Recruitment Consultants   

    2 Architectural Technicians

    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 Facilities Management

    1 Fitness Club Manager

    1 Intelligence Analyst

    1 Lighting Designer

    1 Passenger Transport Management

    1 Railway Operations Management

    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.

© Alan Bullock, 31/5/2021

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