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

Headline news and latest reflections

Once again I’m pleased to report a positive news story. After last week’s major turning point was reached, we now seem to be firmly moving ‘out of the red’ in the sense that the cumulative number of post-lockdown vacancies (10,136) now exceeds the cumulative number of pre-lockdown vacancies (10,046).

This week’s highlight was the posting of 25 Police Constable DAs with the North Yorkshire force, following on from the 145 posts in Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire and Herefordshire earlier in the month. Hence my photographic image of Robin Hood’s Bay, which I took whilst returning from a speaking engagement in Durham. The 25 posts are actually based just down the coast in Scarborough.   

Meanwhile, my occupational listings continue to show an evolving picture of what the strongest sectors are, and by scanning through them you can spot some of the emerging career areas too. On the HA front Construction has been a noticeable recent growth area, whilst the sudden emergence of Sports Coaches in primary schools has spread further around the country in the past few weeks. And across the board, the Digital careers juggernaut just keeps on rolling.

A couple of weeks ago I also mentioned the Trafigura Global Commodity Trading Apprenticeship. It’s different from the norm in that the opportunities are in Singapore or Geneva, although the right to work in Switzerland or an EU passport are now necessary for Geneva. A 6th form student from one of my schools applied successfully for the programme in 2019 and she and I recently caught up with each other on Zoom. The apprenticeship is very hands-on and requires a high level of commitment and resilience, but the potential rewards are incomparable and after successfully completing her first year my student was fast-tracked onto their graduate programme with salary and benefits to match.

Trafigura are looking out for “hungry, motivated people with good quantitative skills, who are excited about working in a fast-paced, competitive sector”. It’s not an opportunity for the faint-hearted, but for a careers adviser it’s good to have it on your radar. Full details are at www.trafigura.com/careers/apprenticeship-programme/. The closing date for 2021 is 4th July, whilst recruitment for 2022 is likely to open next March. PS: I have just published a separate blogpost on this too, so do check it out if you want to know more.


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. If a year or more’s permanent experience is clearly required, I don’t include the vacancy in my data.

I’ve been compiling similar data since autumn 2018, so each week I compare my post-lockdown figures 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 14th to 19th June I recorded:

  • 97 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 98 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

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

  • In the 65 weeks prior to lockdown (24th December 2018 to 20th March 2020) I recorded 5,462 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 4,584 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 10,046 and an average of 155 new vacancies each week.
  • In the 65 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 19th June 2021) I’ve recorded 5,479 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 4,657 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 10,136 and an average of 156 new vacancies each week.  

For the second consecutive week, this represents an increase in vacancies post-lockdown compared with pre-lockdown, now amounting to 0.9%. This is in huge contrast to the dire situation that prevailed during the spring and early-summer of 2020 when there was a reduction of 80%.

Updated regional analysis

The 10,136 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (2,205)
  • Yorkshire (989)
  • West Midlands (650)
  • Greater Manchester (527)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (440)
  • Berkshire (355)
  • Hampshire (350)
  • Hertfordshire (305)
  • Surrey (247)
  • Nottinghamshire (227)
  • Tyne & Wear (223)
  • Lancashire (223)
  • Cheshire (209)
  • Cambridgeshire (202)
  • Essex (196)
  • Warwickshire (191)
  • Suffolk (179)
  • Merseyside (178)
  • Sussex (169)
  • Cumbria (154)
  • Leicestershire (139)
  • Devon (131)
  • Oxfordshire (127)
  • Wiltshire (127)
  • Northamptonshire (124)
  • County Durham (118)
  • Staffordshire (118)
  • Dorset (117)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (116)
  • Kent (114)
  • Buckinghamshire (110)
  • Derbyshire (103)
  • Worcestershire (92)
  • Norfolk (89)
  • Bedfordshire (85)
  • Lincolnshire (67)
  • 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.

  • 2,205   London (8,962,000: 2.46)
  • 1,503   South East (9,180,000: 1.64)
  • 1,291   North West (7,341,000: 1.76)
  • 1,121   West Midlands (5,934,000: 1.89)
  • 1,056   East of England (6,236,000: 1.70)
  •    989   Yorkshire & Humber (5,503,000: 1.80)
  •    947   South West (5,625,000: 1.68)
  •    661   East Midlands (4,836,000: 1.37)
  •    347   North East (2,670,000: 1.30)
  •      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 5,479 new vacancies spread across 86 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £30,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

658 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

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

495 Police Constables

356 Software Engineers

337 Nurses (302 Adult, 23 Mental Health, 5 Older People, 4 Learning Disability, 3 Children)

284 Chartered Management (General)

228 Project Management

225 Civil Engineers

165 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

161 Data Scientists/Analysts

136 Chartered Building/Property/Rural/Valuation Surveyors  

126 Product Design & Development Engineers

123 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

  66 Digital Marketing Professionals

  59 Financial Services Professionals

  58 Manufacturing Engineers

  54 Professional Economists 

  54 Sales Professionals

  51 Laboratory Scientists

  46 Construction Management

  44 Building Services Design Engineers 

  40 Control Engineers

  36 Nuclear Engineers

  34 Digital User Experience (UX) Professionals

  33 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

  18 Town Planners

  16 Materials Science Technologists

  16 Packaging Professionals

  14 Creative Digital Designers   

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

  12 Human Resources Professionals  

  12 Weapons Munitions & Explosives Engineers

  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 Biomedical Healthcare Scientists

    7 Geospatial Mapping/Surveying Professionals

    7 Occupational Therapists

    6 Actuarial Professionals

    6 Medical Physics/Nuclear Medicine Technologists

    6 Non-Destructive Testing Engineers

    6 Podiatrists

    5 Clinical/Medical Engineers

    5 Marketing Management

    5 Operations Analysts

    5 Recruitment Professionals

    5 Social Workers 

    4 Architectural Assistants

    4 Diagnostic Radiographers

    4 Digital Healthcare Scientists

    3 Bioinformatics Specialists

    3 Compliance & Risk Specialists

    2 Agricultural Advisers

    2 Assistant Teachers

    2 Building Information Modelling Specialists (BIM)

    2 Chartered Legal Executives   

    2 Digital Transformation Engineers

    2 Electro-Mechanical Engineers

    2 Journalists

    2 Physiotherapists

    2 Tax Technologists

    1 Assistant Buyer

    1 Audiologist

    1 Charity Management

    1 Human Performance Engineer 

    1 Learning Technologies Support Teacher

    1 Marine Engineer

    1 Midwife

    1 Public Health Practitioner

    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 4,657 new vacancies spread across 92 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £35,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

461 Software Developers 

433 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

394 Sales Executives

379 Data Analysts

374 Project Management Associates

209 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

144 Construction Technicians/Site Supervisors

120 Nursing Associates

119 Policy Officers

119 Tax Technicians

113 Network Engineers

101 Investment Operations Specialists

  98 Software Testers 

  96 Commercial Procurement & Supply

  89 Public Relations Assistants

  87 Cyber Security Technologists/Analysts

  79 Technician Scientists

  71 Business Analysts  

  71 Civil Engineering Technicians

  70 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

  69 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  68 Children/Young People/Family Practitioners

  64 Insurance Professionals  

  60 Regulatory Compliance Professionals

  59 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

  56 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  44 Marketing Executives

  40 Sports Coaches   

  39 Junior Management Consultants

  37 Food Technology/Engineering/Production  

  36 Retail Management

  33 Human Resources Partners     

  22 Nuclear Technicians

  21 Actuarial Technicians

  20 DevOps Engineers

  19 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians 

  16 Automation & Control Engineers

  16 Estate Agency Negotiators

  16 Financial Advisers / Paraplanners

  16 Learning, Skills & Development Practitioners  

  16 Media Production Co-ordinators

  14 Fibre Cable Engineers

  14 Hospitality Management

  14 Journalists

  13 Mineral Products Technicians

  13 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

  13 Quality Practitioners

  12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

  12 Housing & Property Management

  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 MRI Radiography Assistant Practitioners

    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 Metrology Technician

    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, 20/6/2021

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.