Week 71: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England post-COVID latest update

Latest reflections

This is the first in a new series of commentaries. For those already following my blog, it will exclude the pre-COVID comparisons for which I’ve now run out of data. Instead, I’ll simply be comparing my latest weekly figures with the overall post-COVID trend.

One small improvement is that I have started to clarify and break down the growing number of vacancies for Healthcare Science Practitioners (DA) and Healthcare Science Associates (HA), which I had previously failed to get my head around.

Against a backdrop of increasing competition for higher-end university places, apprenticeships are not an easy fall-back option for students completing Level 3 courses in 6th form or college. They recovered really well between August 2020 and July 2021, following the gloomy post-lockdown weeks of early spring 2020 when numbers declined alarmingly. However, there are nowhere near enough to go around, despite the option to step back and start at Advanced or even Intermediate apprenticeship level. In addition, I think it’s fair to say that there’s probably a mismatch between the occupations for which apprentices are sought and those to which many 16 to 18-year-olds aspire. That said, I hope my cumulative data will help to inform colleagues by providing insights into what the emerging occupations are.  

Week 71 was a good one for Higher Apprenticeships (HAs), but until the last minute it was very quiet for Degree Apprenticeships (DAs). Then on Friday, the InHealth Group posted 15 new vacancies around the country, from Eastbourne in Sussex to Ashington in Northumberland, for DAs in Diagnostic Radiography.

For punching above its weight, Northumberland is also my choice for this week’s photographic image from my personal collection. In the first 70 weeks the county only produced 7 vacancies in total, but in Week 71 alone there were a further 4 (3 in Blyth and 1 in Ashington). That’s a remarkable 57% increase.

Background

Since the first ‘lockdown’ started on Monday 23rd March 2020, I’ve kept a record of new higher and degree apprenticeship vacancies posted in England and in doing so have built up an evolving occupational and regional analysis. 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 ‘work-ready’ 18/19-year-olds 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.

When recording multiple vacancies posted by some of the larger employers, I occasionally use an element of editorial licence by making conservative estimates of numbers which I adjust retrospectively if more precise data comes to light. Therefore, the figures I present each week will never be fully reliable. However, the broad trends and analyses provide some powerful LMI that I personally find immensely useful in my guidance and school/college presentations.

Headline data

During the latest period, from 26th to 30th July 2021, I recorded:

  • 35 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 117 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

In the 71 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 30th July 2021) I’ve now recorded:

  • 5,894 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 5,368 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 11,262

Using the first 70 weeks following the initial COVID-19 lockdown as a benchmark (23/3/2020 to 23/7/2021), the latest comparative figures are as follows:

  • Weekly average after 70 weeks: 84 DAs + 75 HAs = 159 total
  • Weekly average after 71 weeks: 83 DAs + 76 HAs = 159 total  

Updated regional analysis

The 11,262 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (2,444)
  • Yorkshire (1,078)
  • West Midlands (717)
  • Greater Manchester (579)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (477)
  • Hampshire (475)
  • Berkshire (368)
  • Hertfordshire (331)
  • Surrey (298)
  • Nottinghamshire (252)
  • Lancashire (239)
  • Tyne & Wear (238)
  • Cheshire (229)
  • Cambridgeshire (228)
  • Essex (219)
  • Warwickshire (208)
  • Sussex (195)
  • Merseyside (190)
  • Suffolk (185)
  • Leicestershire (163)
  • Devon (160)
  • Cumbria (158)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (140)
  • County Durham (139)
  • Kent (139)
  • Oxfordshire (135)
  • Wiltshire (135)
  • Staffordshire (134)
  • Northamptonshire (132)
  • Buckinghamshire (126)
  • Dorset (118)
  • Derbyshire (112)
  • Worcestershire (102)
  • Norfolk (97)
  • Bedfordshire (91)
  • Lincolnshire (70)
  • Shropshire (55)
  • Isle of Wight (32)
  • Herefordshire (21)
  • Cornwall (19)
  • Northumberland (11)
  • 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.

  • 2,444   London (8,962,000: 2.73)
  • 1,768   South East (9,180,000: 1.93)
  • 1,395   North West (7,341,000: 1.90)
  • 1,237   West Midlands (5,934,000: 2.08)
  • 1,151   East of England (6,236,000: 1.85)
  • 1,078   Yorkshire & Humber (5,503,000: 1.96)
  • 1,049   South West (5,625,000: 1.86)
  •    730   East Midlands (4,836,000: 1.51)
  •    388   North East (2,670,000: 1.45)
  •      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 5,894 new vacancies spread across 87 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,708 to £30,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

674 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

661 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)

367 Software Engineers

299 Chartered Management (General)

262 Civil Engineers

230 Project Management

186 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

169 Data Scientists/Analysts

164 Chartered Building/Property/Valuation Surveyors  

127 Product Design & Development Engineers

124 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

114 Food Technology/Production /Manufacturing

104 Supply Chain Leadership

  93 Aerospace Engineers

  81 Digital Marketing Professionals

  80 Cyber Security Professionals

  79 Financial Services Professionals

  75 Retail Leadership

  73 Network Engineers

  71 Sales Professionals

  64 Manufacturing Engineers

  57 Laboratory Scientists

  55 Professional Economists 

  53 Construction Management

  44 Building Services Design Engineers 

  40 Control Engineers

  37 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 Diagnostic Radiographers

  19 Materials Science Technologists

  19 Town Planners

  17 Packaging Professionals

  15 Creative Digital Designers   

  15 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 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Neurosensory (8 Neurophysiology, 1 Audiology)

    9 Transport Planners    

    8 Gas Transmission Engineers

    8 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Physiology (7 Cardiovascular, I Respiratory/Sleep)

    8 Occupational Therapists

    8 Podiatrists

    8 Propulsion Engineers

    7 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Biomedical Science

    7 Geospatial Mapping/Surveying Professionals

    7 Public Health Practitioners

    6 Actuarial Professionals

    6 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Clinical Engineering (3 Medical, 1 Radiation, 1 Renal, 1 Rehabilitation)

    6 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Medical Physics (4 Nuclear Medicine, 2 Radiation Physics)

    6 Marketing Management

    6 Non-Destructive Testing Engineers

    5 Architectural Assistants

    5 Electro-Mechanical/Mechatronics Engineers

    5 Operations Analysts

    5 Recruitment Professionals

    5 Social Workers 

    4 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Digital Healthcare Science

    3 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Bioinformatics

    3 Compliance & Risk Specialists

    2 Agricultural Advisers

    2 Assistant Teachers

    2 Building Information Modelling (BIM) Specialists

    2 Buying & Procurement

    2 Chartered Legal Executives   

    2 Digital Transformation Engineers

    2 Journalists

    2 Physiotherapists

    2 Radiotherapists

    2 Tax Technologists

    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 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, Support Engineer, Cloud Engineer, Scientific Computing Specialist, Platform Manager, Amazon Web Services Specialist, Supervisory Control & Data Acquisition Specialist, Fixed Telecoms Specialist, IT Service Desk Analyst, IT Support Analyst, WordPress Developer, 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 5,368 new vacancies spread across 99 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,474 to £35,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

520 Software Developers 

474 Sales Executives

457 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

436 Data Analysts

423 Project Management Associates

232 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

180 Construction Site Supervisors

131 Network Engineers

127 Tax Technicians

123 Nursing Associates

123 Policy Officers

108 Software Testers 

106 Investment Operations Specialists

103 Commercial Procurement & Supply

101 Civil/Construction Engineering Technicians

  99 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

  98 Technician Scientists

  95 Cyber Security Technologists

  90 Business Analysts  

  84 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

  79 Children/Young People/Families Practitioners

  77 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  74 Insurance Professionals  

  68 Construction Design & Build Technicians

  67 Regulatory Compliance Professionals

  62 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

  56 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  55 Marketing Executives

  49 Sports Coaches   

  45 Retail Management

  41 Food Technology/Engineering/Production  

  40 Junior Management Consultants

  34 Human Resources Partners     

  25 Learning, Skills & Development Teachers/Coaches  

  24 Healthcare Assistant Practitioners

  23 DevOps Engineers

  22 Adult Social Care Leaders

  22 Nuclear Technicians

  21 Actuarial Technicians

  21 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians 

  21 Paraplanners / Financial Advisers

  18 Automation & Control Engineers

  17 Mineral Products Technicians

  16 Estate Agency Negotiators

  16 Hospitality Management

  16 Media Production Co-ordinators

  16 Quality Practitioners

  14 Fibre Cable Engineers

  14 Internal Audit Practitioners

  14 Journalists

  13 Housing & Property Management

  13 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

  12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

  11 Improvement Specialists

  10 Brewers

  10 Dairy Technologists

  10 Operations Management   

    9 Hearing Aid Dispensers

    9 Naval Architects / Marine Engineering Technicians

    8 Hygiene Specialists

    7 Logistics/Supply Chain Specialists

    5 Architectural Technicians

    4 Conveyancing Technicians

    4 Digital Communities Management

    4 Employability Practitioners

    4 Healthcare Science Associates: Audiology    

    4 Recruitment Consultants/Resourcers   

    4 Revenue & Benefits Officers    

    4 Unified Communications Trouble Shooters

    3 Railway Engineering Technicians

    3 School Business Professionals

    2 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioners

    2 Counter Fraud Investigators

    2 Healthcare Science Associates: Medical Engineering

    2 Healthcare Science Associates: Medical Physics

    2 Healthcare Science Associates: MRI Radiography

    2 Healthcare Science Associates: Phlebotomy

    2 Healthcare Science Associates: Respiratory/Sleep Physiology

    2 Information Managers

    2 Paralegals

    2 Railway Operations Management

    2 Rehabilitation Officers (Visual Impairment) 

    2 Tax Technology Technicians

    1 Building Information Modelling (BIM) Technician

    1 Chemical Process Technician

    1 Community Energy Specialist

    1 Dental Technician

    1 Facilities Management

    1 Fitness Club Manager

    1 Healthcare Science Associate: Speech Therapy

    1 Historic Environment Adviser

    1 Intelligence Analyst

    1 Lighting Designer

    1 Metrology Technician

    1 Passenger Transport Management

    1 Sports Development Officer   

    1 Textiles Technician

    1 VFX Artist

    1 Wedding Accessories Designer

Going forward

I intend to continue publishing these regular updates, all being well.

© Alan Bullock, 2/8/2021

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