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

Headline news and latest reflections

For the very first time since the start of the pandemic, this week saw the cumulative number of post-lockdown vacancies (9,941) exceed the cumulative number of pre-lockdown vacancies (9,914). And this was despite having to make a negative adjustment to my post-lockdown data. When I began posting my weekly blog over a year ago, I didn’t expect to see such a positive outcome.

The week’s highlights, which were numerous, included:

  • 55 Police Constable DA’s with the West Mercia force, which covers Worcestershire, Shropshire and Herefordshire and follows on from the previous week’s vacancies in neighbouring Warwickshire
  • 65 assorted Sales Executive HAs and
  • 51 Digital Technology Solutions DAs

My occupational listings continue to show an evolving picture of what the strongest sectors are, and by scanning through them you can also spot some of the emerging career areas too. For example, I’ve noticed a steady trickle of Environmental Practitioner and Environmental Health Officer DAs in recent weeks, taking the total to 42 overall.

As for finding a photographic image of the West Mercia region, I was spoiled for choice. But I’ve selected one I took at Ironbridge after a speaking engagement in Shropshire a few years ago. It perhaps has an added resonance in conjuring up a sense of how we’ve moved over time from the First Industrial Revolution to the Fourth.


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 7th 12th June I recorded:

  • 166 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 183 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

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

  • In the 64 weeks prior to lockdown (31st December 2018 to 20th March 2020) I recorded 5,407 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 4,507 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 9,914 and an average of 154.9 new vacancies each week.
  • In the 64 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 12th June 2021) I’ve recorded 5,382 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 4,559 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 9,941 and an average of 155.3 new vacancies each week.  

For the very first time, this represents an increase of 0.2% in vacancies post-lockdown compared with pre-lockdown, which is a huge contrast to the dure situation that prevailed during the spring and early-summer of 2020 when there was a reduction of 80%.

Updated regional analysis

The 9,941 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (2,179)
  • Yorkshire (952)
  • West Midlands (635)
  • Greater Manchester (521)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (431)
  • Berkshire (352)
  • Hampshire (345)
  • Hertfordshire (286)
  • Surrey (239)
  • Nottinghamshire (223)
  • Lancashire (221)
  • Tyne & Wear (220)
  • Cheshire (207)
  • Cambridgeshire (199)
  • Essex (192)
  • Warwickshire (189)
  • Suffolk (179)
  • Merseyside (178)
  • Sussex (168)
  • Cumbria (154)
  • Leicestershire (133)
  • Wiltshire (126)
  • Devon (126)
  • Northamptonshire (123)
  • Oxfordshire (123)
  • County Durham (117)
  • Dorset (116)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (114)
  • Kent (113)
  • Staffordshire (112)
  • Buckinghamshire (106)
  • Derbyshire (101)
  • Worcestershire (90)
  • Norfolk (88)
  • Bedfordshire (82)
  • Lincolnshire (61)
  • Shropshire (50)
  • Isle of Wight (31)
  • Herefordshire (20)
  • Cornwall (16)
  • 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.

  • 2,179   London (8,962,000: 2.43)
  • 1,477   South East (9,180,000: 1.61)
  • 1,281   North West (7,341,000: 1.74)
  • 1,096   West Midlands (5,934,000: 1.85)
  • 1,026   East of England (6,236,000: 1.65)
  •    952   Yorkshire & Humber (5,503,000: 1.73)
  •    929   South West (5,625,000: 1.65)
  •    642   East Midlands (4,836,000: 1.33)
  •    343   North East (2,670,000: 1.28)
  •      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 5,382 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: 

656 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

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

470 Police Constables

354 Software Engineers

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

276 Chartered Management (General)

227 Project Management

223 Civil Engineers

165 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

159 Data Scientists/Analysts

126 Product Design & Development Engineers

124 Chartered Building/Property Surveyors  

121 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

112 Food Technology/Production /Manufacturing

104 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

  53 Sales Professionals

  51 Laboratory Scientists

  46 Construction Management

  43 Building Services Design Engineers 

  40 Control Engineers

  36 Nuclear Engineers

  34 Digital User Experience (UX) Professionals

  32 Environmental Practitioners

  32 Operating Department Practitioners

  30 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

  30 Solicitors

  29 Manufacturing & Production Management (non-food)        

  25 Automotive Engineers

  20 Clinical Trials Specialists

  17 Town Planners

  14 Creative Digital Designers   

  14 Materials Science Technologists

  14 Packaging Professionals

  13 Clinical Physiologists (7 Cardiac, 5 Neuro, 1 Respiratory & Sleep)

  12 Weapons Munitions & Explosives Engineers

  11 Human Resources Professionals  

  10 Broadcast/Media Systems Engineers

  10 Chemical Engineers

  10 Environmental Health Officers

  10 Internal Audit Professionals    

    9 Transport Planners    

    8 Gas Transmission Engineers

    8 Propulsion Engineers

    7 Geospatial Mapping/Surveying Professionals

    6 Non-Destructive Testing Engineers

    6 Occupational Therapists

    6 Podiatrists

    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

    3 Bioinformatics Specialists

    3 Building Control Surveyors

    3 Compliance & Risk Specialists

    3 Medical Physics Technologists

    2 Agricultural Advisers

    2 Assistant Architects

    2 Assistant Teachers

    2 Chartered Legal Executives   

    2 Digital Transformation Engineers

    2 Electro-Mechanical Engineers

    2 Journalists

    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 4,559 new vacancies spread across 90 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £35,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

453 Software Developers 

429 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

388 Sales Executives

375 Data Analysts

370 Project Management Associates

207 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

122 Construction Technicians/Site Supervisors

120 Nursing Associates

117 Policy Officers

117 Tax Technicians

109 Network Engineers

101 Investment Operations Specialists

  97 Software Testers 

  93 Commercial Procurement & Supply

  89 Public Relations Assistants

  84 Cyber Security Technologists/Analysts

  79 Technician Scientists

  71 Civil Engineering Technicians

  68 Children/Young People/Family Practitioners

  68 Quantity Surveying Technicians 

  67 Building Services Engineering Technicians 

  67 Business Analysts 

  64 Insurance Professionals

  60 Regulatory Compliance Professionals

  56 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

  56 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  44 Marketing Executives

  39 Junior Management Consultants

  37 Food Technology/Engineering/Production  

  35 Retail Management

  33 Human Resources Partners     

  29 Sports Coaches   

  22 Nuclear Technicians

  21 Actuarial Technicians

  19 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians 

  18 DevOps Engineers

  16 Automation & Control Engineers

  16 Learning, Skills & Development Practitioners  

  16 Media Production Co-ordinators

  15 Estate Agency Negotiators

  15 Financial Advisers / Paraplanners

  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

  12 Quality Practitioners

  11 Audiology Associates/Hearing Aid Dispensers

  10 Dairy Technologists

  10 Healthcare Associate Practitioners

  10 Internal Auditors

  10 Operations Management   

    9 Improvement Technicians

    8 Adult Social Care Leaders

    8 Brewers

    8 Hygiene Specialists

    8 Naval Architects

    7 Logistics/Supply Chain Specialists

    4 Conveyancing Technicians

    4 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 Counter Fraud Investigators

    2 Information Managers

    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 Junior VFX Artist

    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, 14/6/2021

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