Week 72: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England post COVID

Latest reflections

Week 72 in my new series of updates was a relatively good one for Higher Apprenticeships but a slow one for Degree Apprenticeships. However, August is normally a quiet time for DAs and therefore hopefully it’s only a seasonal lull.

Perhaps a little more disappointing was the fact that 36% of this week’s crop of new vacancies were in Greater London. One of the main reasons why I wanted to include a regional analysis in my reports was that I was always curious about whether DAs and HAs would tend to be a bit London-centric and to be honest this has proved to be the case to some extent with 22% of post-COVID vacancies overall being in the Greater London region (whereas its population is 16% of the total). However, plenty of other areas do punch above their weight and any readers in Kent might be especially consoled by getting the nod for this week’s photographic image, on account of it being the top county outside the metropolis with nine new vacancies (three in Gillingham, two each in Ramsgate and Dover and one each in Tonbridge and Canterbury). I happened to spend an afternoon in Canterbury last month, hence the photo from my personal collection.    

If you missed last week’s update, one small improvement in my new series is that I’ve started to clarify and break down the growing number of vacancies for Healthcare Science Practitioner DAs and Healthcare Science Associate HAs, which I had previously failed to get my head around. We have also seen three completely new HA occupations this week, namely Post-Production Technical Operator, Port Marine Operations Officer and Acoustics Technician. In addition, there were two more Architectural Assistants and three more Town Planners amongst the DAs, while the total number of HAs for Public Relations & Communications Assistants reached treble figures and Regulatory Compliance Officers reached 70. How many young people do we see who want to get into Regulatory Compliance, I wonder? It’s an example of why I find the evolving occupational analyses so compelling.


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 2nd to 7th August 2021, I recorded:

  • 30 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 104 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

In the 72 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 7th August 2021) I’ve now recorded:

  • 5,924 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 5,472 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 11,396

Using the 70 weeks either side of the initial COVID-19 lockdown (on 23/3/20) as a benchmark, the latest comparative figures are as follows:

  • Weekly average in the 70 weeks before lockdown: 82 DAs + 71 HAs = 153 total
  • Weekly average in the 70 weeks after lockdown: 84 DAs + 75 HAs = 159 total
  • Weekly average in the 72 weeks after lockdown: 82 DAs + 76 HAs = 158 total  

Updated regional analysis

The 11,396 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (2,492)
  • Yorkshire (1,086)
  • West Midlands (720)
  • Greater Manchester (583)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (481)
  • Hampshire (480)
  • Berkshire (374)
  • Hertfordshire (335)
  • Surrey (298)
  • Nottinghamshire (256)
  • Lancashire (243)
  • Tyne & Wear (240)
  • Cheshire (231)
  • Cambridgeshire (229)
  • Essex (220)
  • Warwickshire (212)
  • Sussex (198)
  • Merseyside (192)
  • Suffolk (186)
  • Leicestershire (165)
  • Devon (161)
  • Cumbria (158)
  • Kent (148)
  • Oxfordshire (141)
  • County Durham (140)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (140)
  • Wiltshire (138)
  • Staffordshire (137)
  • Northamptonshire (132)
  • Buckinghamshire (127)
  • Dorset (119)
  • Derbyshire (112)
  • Worcestershire (102)
  • Norfolk (97)
  • Bedfordshire (91)
  • Lincolnshire (71)
  • 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.

  • 2,492   London (8,962,000: 2.78)
  • 1,798   South East (9,180,000: 1.96)
  • 1,407   North West (7,341,000: 1.92)
  • 1,247   West Midlands (5,934,000: 2.10)
  • 1,158   East of England (6,236,000: 1.86)
  • 1,086   Yorkshire & Humber (5,503,000: 1.97)
  • 1,058   South West (5,625,000: 1.88)
  •    737   East Midlands (4,836,000: 1.52)
  •    391   North East (2,670,000: 1.46)
  •      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 5,924 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

451 Nurses (414 Adult, 24 Mental Health, 5 Learning Disability, 5 Older People, 3 Children)

369 Software Engineers

304 Chartered Management (General)

263 Civil Engineers

230 Project Management

188 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

169 Data Scientists/Analysts

166 Chartered Building/Property/Valuation Surveyors  

130 Product Design & Development Engineers

125 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

114 Food Technology/Production /Manufacturing

105 Supply Chain Leadership

  93 Aerospace Engineers

  83 Digital Marketing Professionals

  80 Cyber Security Professionals

  79 Financial Services Professionals

  75 Retail Leadership

  73 Network Engineers

  71 Sales Professionals

  65 Manufacturing Engineers

  59 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

  22 Town Planners

  20 Clinical Trials Specialists

  19 Diagnostic Radiographers

  19 Materials Science Technologists

  17 Packaging Professionals

  15 Creative Digital Designers   

  15 Environmental Health Officers

  14 Human Resources / People 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 Architectural Assistants

    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 Electro-Mechanical/Mechatronics Engineers

    5 Operations Analysts

    5 Recruitment Professionals

    5 Social Workers 

    4 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Digital Healthcare Science

    3 Agricultural Advisers

    3 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Bioinformatics

    3 Compliance & Risk Specialists

    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 5,472 new vacancies spread across 102 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £35,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

531 Software Developers 

491 Sales Executives

458 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

447 Data Analysts

434 Project Management Associates

233 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

180 Construction Site Supervisors

133 Network Engineers

128 Tax Technicians

123 Nursing Associates

123 Policy Officers

108 Software Testers 

106 Investment Operations Specialists

104 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

103 Commercial Procurement & Supply

101 Civil/Construction Engineering Technicians

  98 Cyber Security Technologists / Cyber Intrusion Analysts

  98 Technician Scientists

  90 Business Analysts  

  84 Children/Young People/Families Practitioners

  84 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

  80 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  75 Insurance Professionals  

  72 Construction Design & Build Technicians

  70 Regulatory Compliance Officers

  62 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

  56 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  56 Marketing Executives

  52 Retail Management

  50 Sports Coaches   

  41 Food Technology/Engineering/Production  

  40 Junior Management Consultants

  34 Human Resources Partners     

  25 Learning, Skills & Development Teachers/Coaches  

  24 DevOps Engineers

  24 Healthcare Assistant Practitioners

  22 Adult Social Care Leaders

  22 Nuclear Technicians

  22 Paraplanners / Financial Advisers

  21 Actuarial Technicians

  21 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians 

  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

    7 Railway Engineering Technicians

    6 Employability Practitioners

    5 Architectural Technicians

    5 Digital Community Management

    4 Conveyancing Technicians

    4 Healthcare Science Associates: Audiology    

    4 Recruitment Consultants/Resourcers   

    4 Revenue & Benefits Officers    

    4 Unified Communications Trouble Shooters

    3 Post-Production Technical Operators (Film/TV)

    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 Port Marine Operations Officers

    2 Railway Operations Management

    2 Rehabilitation Officers (Visual Impairment) 

    2 Tax Technology Technicians

    2 VFX Artists

    1 Acoustics Technician

    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 Wedding Accessories Designer

Going forward

I will continue publishing these regular updates in the coming weeks, all being well.

© Alan Bullock, 8/8/2021

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