63 weeks after the start of lockdown: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England soar again

Headline news and latest reflections

Given that this was a four-day week, my latest data paints a very positive and colourful picture. The highlights were:

  • 90 Police Constable DAs in Warwickshire; they were posted on the government apprenticeship site and, whilst aimed to attract applicants from all walks of life, school and college leavers are part of that target.
  • 21 Retail Management HAs with Peacocks Clothing, bringing the total to 27 in the past fortnight, all at separate locations stretching from Kendal in Cumbria to Bude in Cornwall and all of them in small to medium sized towns or suburban locations.  
  • 18 Chartered Surveyor DAs with the Valuation Office Agency, spread across 18 different towns and cities from Lancaster to Colchester.
  • 11 Digital User Experience (UX) DAs with NatWest Bank, 10 in London and one in Bristol and all targeted at 18 to 24-year-olds who are eligible for Free School Meals, from areas of low attainment, who face personal disadvantage and who are passionate about delivering great outcomes for customers; starting salary for the London vacancies is £28,035.
  • 9 Construction Design & Build Technician HAs with Manchester City Council, bringing the total number of post-lockdown Construction Technician / Site Supervisor HAs to over 100 and making it one of the top ten HA occupational areas.  
  • 8 more Sports Coaches, bringing the total to 27 in recent weeks; this time they were located in Leicester, Wolverhampton, Melksham, Portishead, Southampton, Owslebury (Hants) and two in Dorchester.     

My choice of location for this week’s photographic image was something of a no-brainer, given the bulk posting of PCDA vacancies in Warwickshire. It’s a slightly unusual photo I took in Warwick a few years ago en route from a speaking engagement.

In the week ahead I hope to feature an especially unique opportunity, namely Trafigura’s Global Commodity Trading Apprenticeship. Watch this space.


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 31st May to 4th June I recorded:

  • 170 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 113 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

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

  • In the 63 weeks prior to lockdown (7th January 2019 to 20th March 2020) I recorded 5,352 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 4,430 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 9,782 and an average of 155 new vacancies each week.
  • In the 63 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 4th June 2021) I’ve recorded 5,216 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 4,376 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 9,592 and an average of 152 new vacancies each week.  

This represents a mere 1.9% 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 9,592 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (2,128)
  • Yorkshire (900)
  • West Midlands (612)
  • Greater Manchester (511)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (417)
  • Hampshire (341)
  • Berkshire (333)
  • Hertfordshire (279)
  • Surrey (238)
  • Lancashire (216)
  • Nottinghamshire (216)
  • Tyne & Wear (207)
  • Cheshire (205)
  • Cambridgeshire (197)
  • Warwickshire (186)
  • Essex (184)
  • Suffolk (178)
  • Merseyside (177)
  • Sussex (159)
  • Cumbria (148)
  • Leicestershire (132)
  • Wiltshire (124)
  • Devon (123)
  • Oxfordshire (118)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (115)
  • Dorset (115)
  • Northamptonshire (112)
  • County Durham (109)
  • Kent (109)
  • Staffordshire (107)
  • Buckinghamshire (103)
  • Derbyshire (95)
  • Norfolk (89)
  • Bedfordshire (79)
  • Worcestershire (60)
  • Lincolnshire (57)
  • Shropshire (32)
  • Isle of Wight (31)
  • Cornwall (17)
  • Herefordshire (10)
  • 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.

  • 2,128   London (8,962,000: 2.37)
  • 1,432   South East (9,180,000: 1.56)
  • 1,257   North West (7,341,000: 1.71)
  • 1,007   West Midlands (5,934,000: 1.70)
  • 1,006   East of England (6,236,000: 1.61)
  •    911   South West (5,625,000: 1.62)
  •    900   Yorkshire & Humber (5,503,000: 1.64)
  •    613   East Midlands (4,836,000: 1.27)
  •    322   North East (2,670,000: 1.21)
  •      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 5,216 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: 

655 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

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

415 Police Constables

352 Software Engineers

334 Nurses (299 Adult, 23 Mental Health, 5 Older People, 4 Learning Disability, 3 Children)

268 Chartered Management (General)

225 Project Management

222 Civil Engineers

161 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

155 Data Scientists/Analysts

126 Product Design & Development Engineers

124 Chartered Building/Property Surveyors  

121 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

112 Food Technology/Production /Manufacturing

  97 Logistics/Supply Chain Leadership

  93 Aerospace Engineers

  75 Retail Leadership

  74 Cyber Security Professionals

  73 Network Engineers

  65 Digital Marketing Professionals

  59 Financial Services Professionals

  54 Professional Economists 

  53 Manufacturing Engineers

  50 Sales Professionals

  48 Laboratory Scientists

  46 Construction Management

  42 Building Services Design Engineers 

  40 Control Engineers

  36 Nuclear Engineers

  33 Digital User Experience (UX) Professionals

  30 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

  30 Solicitors

  29 Manufacturing & Production Management (non-food)        

  26 Operating Department Theatre Practitioners

  25 Automotive Engineers

  23 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

  11 Clinical Physiologists (7 Cardiac, 4 Neuro)

  10 Broadcast/Media Systems Engineers

  10 Chemical Engineers

  10 Human Resources Professionals  

  10 Internal Audit Professionals    

    9 Transport Planners    

    8 Gas Transmission Engineers

    8 Propulsion Engineers

    7 Environmental Health Officers

    7 Geospatial Mapping/Surveying Professionals

    6 Non-Destructive Testing Engineers

    6 Occupational Therapists

    5 Marketing Management

    5 Operations Analysts

    5 Podiatrists

    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

    3 Bioinformatics Specialists

    3 Building Control Surveyors

    3 Compliance & Risk Specialists

    2 Agricultural Advisers

    2 Assistant Architects

    2 Assistant Teachers

    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 4,376 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: 

442 Software Developers 

426 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

368 Data Analysts

366 Project Management Associates

323 Sales Executives

202 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

120 Nursing Associates

116 Construction Technicians/Site Supervisors

116 Tax Technicians

115 Policy Officers

109 Network Engineers

100 Investment Operations Specialists

  97 Software Testers 

  87 Commercial Procurement & Supply

  86 Public Relations Assistants

  79 Cyber Security Technologists/Analysts

  78 Technician Scientists

  68 Children/Young People/Family Practitioners

  67 Building Services Engineering Technicians 

  64 Civil Engineering Technicians

  64 Insurance Professionals

  62 Business Analysts 

  57 Quantity Surveying Technicians 

  57 Regulatory Compliance Professionals

  54 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  47 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

  39 Junior Management Consultants

  38 Marketing Executives

  34 Food Technology/Engineering/Production  

  34 Retail Management

  33 Human Resources Partners     

  27 Sports Coaches   

  22 Nuclear Technicians

  19 Actuarial Technicians

  19 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians 

  18 DevOps Engineers

  16 Automation & Control 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

  12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

  12 Hospitality Management

  12 Housing & Property Management

  11 Audiology Associates/Hearing Aid Dispensers

  11 Quality Practitioners

  10 Dairy Technologists

  10 Healthcare Associate Practitioners

    9 Internal Auditors

    9 Operations Management   

    8 Brewers

    8 Hygiene Specialists

    8 Improvement Technicians

    8 Naval Architects

    7 Adult Social Care Leaders

    7 Logistics/Supply Chain Specialists

    3 Digital Communities Management

    3 Employability Practitioners

    3 Railway Engineering Technicians

    3 Recruitment Consultants   

    3 Revenue & Benefits Officers    

    2 Architectural Technicians

    2 BEMS Controls Engineers

    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 Sports Development Officer   

    1 Textiles Technician

    1 Wedding Accessories Designer

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 slightly different approach that will enable me to continue putting some useful LMI out there.

© Alan Bullock, 6/6/2021

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