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

Headline news and latest reflections

Nursing, Construction and History make this week’s headlines, led by multiple new Registered Nursing DA vacancies especially in Winchester and Basingstoke in Hampshire. Hence this week’s photographic image, a lofty view of Winchester from my personal collection. There is no suggestion that work-ready school and college leavers would be disadvantaged in applying for the Hampshire RNDA posts and the apprentices will be employed as Healthcare Support Workers whilst undertaking their training and studies.

As for HAs, Construction Site Supervisors have hit the headlines again too with over 50 vacancies. In fact, another observation I’ve made in recent weeks is the quite high volume of opportunities for which a Level 3 Diploma in Construction might be ideal preparation. In a similar way, a Level 3 qualification in Health & Social Care would also appear to be quite a good bet at present. In fact, across the board I’m noticing numerous new vacancies for which students completing vocational programmes at Level 3 could be well-placed.

One other little highlight this week was spotting my first ever HA for a Historic Environment Adviser. It’s with the National Trust and involves working on projects in the Shropshire Hills, of which I have fond memories myself. The only little blip is that the government apprenticeship website incorrectly states that applicants for this post need A Levels in Maths and English, which on closer inspection is very misleading. It’s not the first time I’ve noticed errors like this either.    

Meanwhile, my evolving occupational analyses continue to show some intriguing patterns. For example, a five-horse race is taking shape at the top of the HA listings with Software Developers, Accountants, Sales Executives, Data Analysts and Project Management Associates all in the 400s.

After over a year of publishing these routine weekly DA and HA blogposts, I’m approaching the point where my historic data is running out. However, going forward I do intend to continue putting something similar out there, but without the pre- and post-lockdown comparisons. And anyway, it’s all very timely because my original intention was to record the adverse effects of the pandemic on the volume of new apprenticeship vacancies, but in the last few weeks the corner seems to have been well and truly turned and numbers are relatively strong. If I had to pick out one factor that has contributed to this, it’s the growth in health-related professions and especially Adult Nursing. As ever, Digital careers are also flying high whilst occupations connected with the Built Environment are flourishing somewhat too.

Finally, my recent Trafigura Global Commodity Trading Apprenticeship blogpost has so far reached a total of 575 readers in 58 different countries, smashing all my previous blog and website records.


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 Jobs.

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 28th June to 3rd July 2021 I recorded:

  • 176 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 145 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

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

  • In the 67 weeks prior to lockdown (10th December 2018 to 20th March 2020) I recorded 5,572 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 4,738 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 10,310 and an average of 154 new vacancies each week.
  • In the 67 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 2nd July 2021) I’ve recorded 5,712 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 4,943 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 10,655 and an average of 159 new vacancies each week.  

For the fifth consecutive week, this represents an increase in vacancies post-lockdown compared with pre-lockdown, now amounting to a 3.3% rise. 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 10,655 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (2,312)
  • Yorkshire (1,012)
  • West Midlands (688)
  • Greater Manchester (551)
  • Hampshire (459)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (446)
  • Berkshire (361)
  • Hertfordshire (310)
  • Surrey (282)
  • Nottinghamshire (239)
  • Tyne & Wear (230)
  • Lancashire (227)
  • Cheshire (214)
  • Essex (213)
  • Cambridgeshire (207)
  • Warwickshire (193)
  • Merseyside (187)
  • Suffolk (182)
  • Sussex (176)
  • Cumbria (157)
  • Leicestershire (151)
  • Devon (142)
  • Wiltshire (130)
  • Kent (130)
  • Oxfordshire (128)
  • Staffordshire (127)
  • County Durham (126)
  • Northamptonshire (126)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (123)
  • Dorset (117)
  • Buckinghamshire (113)
  • Derbyshire (104)
  • Worcestershire (95)
  • Norfolk (93)
  • Bedfordshire (87)
  • Lincolnshire (68)
  • Shropshire (52)
  • Isle of Wight (31)
  • Herefordshire (21)
  • Cornwall (16)
  • Northumberland (6)
  • Rutland (1)
  • Not specified (22) 

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.

  • 2,312   London (8,962,000: 2.58)
  • 1,680   South East (9,180,000: 1.83)
  • 1,336   North West (7,341,000: 1.82)
  • 1,176   West Midlands (5,934,000: 1.98)
  • 1,092   East of England (6,236,000: 1.75)
  • 1,012   Yorkshire & Humber (5,503,000: 1.84)
  •    974   South West (5,625,000: 1.73)
  •    689   East Midlands (4,836,000: 1.42)
  •    362   North East (2,670,000: 1.36)
  •      22   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 5,712 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: 

663 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

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

495 Police Constables

450 Nurses (414 Adult, 23 Mental Health, 5 Learning Disability, 5 Older People, 3 Children)

357 Software Engineers

293 Chartered Management (General)

242 Civil Engineers

228 Project Management

169 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

164 Data Scientists/Analysts

151 Chartered Building/Property/Valuation Surveyors  

126 Product Design & Development Engineers

123 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

113 Food Technology/Production /Manufacturing

104 Supply Chain Leadership

  93 Aerospace Engineers

  75 Retail Leadership

  74 Cyber Security Professionals

  73 Digital Marketing Professionals

  73 Network Engineers

  64 Sales Professionals

  59 Financial Services Professionals

  58 Manufacturing Engineers

  55 Laboratory Scientists

  55 Professional Economists 

  53 Construction Management

  44 Building Services Design Engineers 

  40 Control Engineers

  36 Nuclear Engineers

  34 Digital User Experience (UX) Professionals

  33 Environmental Practitioners

  33 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

  32 Operating Department Practitioners

  31 Solicitors

  29 Manufacturing & Production Management (non-food)        

  25 Automotive Engineers

  20 Clinical Trials Specialists

  19 Materials Science Technologists

  18 Town Planners

  16 Clinical Physiologists (8 Neuro, 7 Cardiac, 1 Respiratory & Sleep)

  16 Packaging Professionals

  14 Creative Digital Designers   

  14 Environmental Health Officers

  13 Human Resources Professionals  

  12 Weapons Munitions & Explosives Engineers

  10 Broadcast/Media Systems Engineers

  10 Chemical Engineers

  10 Internal Audit Professionals    

    9 Transport Planners    

    8 Gas Transmission Engineers

    8 Occupational Therapists

    8 Propulsion Engineers

    7 Biomedical Healthcare Scientists

    7 Geospatial Mapping/Surveying Professionals

    7 Podiatrists

    6 Actuarial Professionals

    6 Marketing Management

    6 Medical Physics/Nuclear Medicine Technologists

    6 Non-Destructive Testing Engineers

    5 Architectural Assistants

    5 Clinical/Medical Engineers

    5 Operations Analysts

    5 Recruitment Professionals

    5 Social Workers 

    4 Diagnostic Radiographers

    4 Digital Healthcare Scientists

    3 Bioinformatics Specialists

    3 Compliance & Risk Specialists

    3 Mechatronics Engineers

    2 Agricultural Advisers

    2 Assistant Teachers

    2 Building Information Modelling Specialists (BIM)

    2 Chartered Legal Executives   

    2 Digital Transformation Engineers

    2 Journalists

    2 Physiotherapists

    2 Public Health Practitioners

    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 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 4,943 new vacancies spread across 95 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £35,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

477 Software Developers 

442 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

418 Sales Executives

403 Data Analysts

401 Project Management Associates

217 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

148 Construction Site Supervisors

122 Network Engineers

122 Tax Technicians

120 Nursing Associates

119 Policy Officers

102 Software Testers 

101 Investment Operations Specialists

100 Commercial Procurement & Supply

  96 Civil/Construction Engineering Technicians

  94 Public Relations Assistants

  90 Cyber Security Technologists

  81 Technician Scientists

  76 Business Analysts  

  72 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  71 Children/Young People/Family Practitioners

  71 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

  64 Insurance Professionals  

  63 Construction Design & Build Technicians

  63 Regulatory Compliance Professionals

  62 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

  56 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  48 Marketing Executives

  44 Sports Coaches   

  40 Junior Management Consultants

  38 Food Technology/Engineering/Production  

  37 Retail Management

  33 Human Resources Partners     

  24 Learning, Skills & Development Practitioners/Teachers  

  22 Nuclear Technicians

  21 Actuarial Technicians

  20 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians 

  20 DevOps Engineers

  17 Paraplanners / Financial Advisers

  16 Automation & Control Engineers

  16 Estate Agency Negotiators

  16 Media Production Co-ordinators

  15 Mineral Products Technicians

  14 Fibre Cable Engineers

  14 Hospitality Management

  14 Journalists

  13 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

  13 Quality Practitioners

  12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

  12 Housing & Property Management

  11 Adult Social Care Leaders

  11 Audiology Associates/Hearing Aid Dispensers

  11 Healthcare Associate Practitioners

  10 Brewers

  10 Dairy Technologists

  10 Internal Auditors

  10 Operations Management   

    9 Improvement Technicians

    8 Hygiene Specialists

    8 Naval Architects

    7 Logistics/Supply Chain Specialists

    5 Architectural Technicians

    4 Conveyancing Technicians

    4 Digital Communities Management

    4 Recruitment Consultants/Resourcers   

    4 Unified Communications Trouble Shooters

    3 Employability Practitioners

    3 Railway Engineering Technicians

    3 Revenue & Benefits Officers    

    3 School Business Professionals

    2 BEMS Controls Engineers

    2 Clinical/Medical Engineers

    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 Tax Technology Technicians

    1 Chemical Process Technician

    1 Community Energy Specialist

    1 Facilities Management

    1 Fitness Club Manager

    1 Healthcare Science Associate (Respiratory Physiology)

    1 Historic Environment Adviser

    1 Intelligence Analyst

    1 Lighting Designer

    1 Metrology Technician

    1 Passenger Transport Management

    1 Railway Operations Management

    1 Sports Development Officer   

    1 Textiles Technician

    1 VFX Artist

    1 Wedding Accessories Designer

Going forward

I’ve got sufficient data to keep this format going for two or three more weeks. Thereafter, I’ll probably look at a slightly different approach that will enable me to continue putting some useful LMI out there.

© Alan Bullock, 4/7/2021

One thought on “67 weeks after the start of lockdown: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England soar again

  1. Thank you Alan, this is fascinating. My observation is that apprenticeships of L5+ are less likely to include recruitment. I’m sure this is an over simplification but is certainly seems true for office-based roles.

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.