Week 74: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England post COVID – a mixed bag

Latest reflections

The summer vacation period has proved to be a fairly quiet time for Degree Apprenticeships (DAs) but a relatively buoyant one for Higher Apprenticeships (HAs).

This does put into quite sharp context any rumours that some UCAS offer holders were turning to DAs as a last-minute alternative to full-time uni. If they were, then they probably won’t have had much to choose from if they were seeking an immediate solution.

In contrast there has been plenty of activity on the HA front recently and this week’s highlight was the posting of 50 new vacancies for Associate Ambulance Practitioners with the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust. Meanwhile two other ‘new entrants’ were a Fire Safety Inspector and a Wedding Venue Co-ordinator, alongside the third vacancy I’ve seen this year for a Counter Fraud Investigator. My occupational analyses continue to showcase an increasingly intriguing range of emerging professions in the changing career landscape that school and college leavers face.  

The choice of image from my photograph collection this week was a close call between Newcastle and Worcester, with both cities punching above their weight. I decided to go for Worcester on this occasion as, unlike Newcastle, it hasn’t appeared in my blog before.     


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.

I also collated similar data for a period of 70 weeks prior to the March 2020 lockdown. My weekly headline data therefore compares the pre-lockdown and post-lockdown data and I now use the two 70-week periods either side of lockdown as a benchmark.

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 16th to 22nd August 2021, I recorded:

  • 38 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 158 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

In the 74 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 22nd August 2021) I’ve now recorded:

  • 6,023 new Degree & Level 7 Apprenticeships and 5,758 new Higher Apprenticeships, giving a total of 11,781

Using the 70 weeks either side of the initial COVID-19 lockdown (on 23/3/20) as a benchmark, my 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 74 weeks after lockdown: 81 DAs + 78 HAs = 159 total 

This indicates that DAs have remained fairly steady since I started collating the data back in October 2018, but with a significant decline over the past four weeks. However, this is probably due to the customary summer vacation lull. In contrast HAs have shown a continuous steady increase since March 2020 and have been especially buoyant this summer.    

Updated regional analysis

The 11,781 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (2,632)
  • Yorkshire (1,098)
  • West Midlands (742)
  • Greater Manchester (600)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (496)
  • Hampshire (485)
  • Berkshire (384)
  • Hertfordshire (347)
  • Surrey (301)
  • Nottinghamshire (267)
  • Lancashire (255)
  • Tyne & Wear (254)
  • Cambridgeshire (238)
  • Cheshire (238)
  • Essex (230)
  • Warwickshire (218)
  • Sussex (200)
  • Merseyside (194)
  • Suffolk (189)
  • Leicestershire (168)
  • Devon (165)
  • Cumbria (159)
  • Kent (157)
  • Staffordshire (144)
  • Oxfordshire (144)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (143)
  • County Durham (142)
  • Wiltshire (138)
  • Northamptonshire (136)
  • Buckinghamshire (128)
  • Dorset (122)
  • Derbyshire (121)
  • Worcestershire (109)
  • Norfolk (102)
  • Bedfordshire (94)
  • Lincolnshire (77)
  • Shropshire (55)
  • Isle of Wight (32)
  • Cornwall (22)
  • Herefordshire (21)
  • 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.

  • 2,632   London (8,962,000: 2.94)
  • 1,831   South East (9,180,000: 1.99)
  • 1,446   North West (7,341,000: 1.97)
  • 1,289   West Midlands (5,934,000: 2.17)
  • 1,200   East of England (6,236,000: 1.92)
  • 1,098   Yorkshire & Humber (5,503,000: 2.00)
  • 1,086   South West (5,625,000: 1.93)
  •    770   East Midlands (4,836,000: 1.59)
  •    407   North East (2,670,000: 1.52)
  •      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 6,023 new vacancies spread across 87 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,708 to £30,629pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

680 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

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

495 Police Constables

452 Nurses (415 Adult, 24 Mental Health, 5 Learning Disability, 5 Older People, 3 Children)

379 Software Engineers

317 Chartered Management (General)

266 Civil Engineers

231 Project Management

198 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

174 Data Scientists/Analysts

168 Chartered Building/Property/Valuation Surveyors  

131 Product Design & Development Engineers

125 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

114 Food Technology/Production /Manufacturing

106 Supply Chain Leadership

  97 Digital Marketing Professionals

  93 Aerospace Engineers

  81 Cyber Security Professionals

  79 Financial Services Professionals

  75 Retail Leadership

  73 Network Engineers

  72 Sales Professionals

  65 Manufacturing Engineers

  61 Laboratory Scientists

  55 Professional Economists 

  53 Construction Management

  44 Building Services Design Engineers 

  40 Control Engineers

  37 Nuclear Engineers

  36 User Experience (UX) Design Professionals

  35 Environmental Practitioners

  33 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

  32 Operating Department Practitioners

  31 Solicitors

  29 Manufacturing & Production Management (non-food)        

  25 Automotive Engineers

  24 Town Planners

  20 Clinical Trials Specialists

  19 Diagnostic Radiographers

  19 Materials Science Technologists

  18 Creative Digital Designers   

  17 Packaging Professionals

  16 Environmental Health Officers

  15 Human Resources / People Professionals  

  12 Weapons Munitions & Explosives Engineers

  10 Broadcast/Media Systems Engineers

  10 Chemical Engineers

  10 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Physiology (7 Cardiovascular, 3 Respiratory/Sleep)

  10 Internal Audit Professionals    

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

    9 Transport Planners    

    8 Gas Transmission Engineers

    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 Education Technology Specialist

    2 Journalists

    2 Physiotherapists

    2 Radiotherapists

    2 Tax Technologists

    1 Charity Management

    1 Human Performance Engineer 

    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, Sales Engineer, Scientific Computing Specialist, Platform Manager, Amazon Web Services Specialist, Supervisory Control & Data Acquisition Specialist, Fixed Telecoms Specialist, IT Service Desk Analyst, Support Desk 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 5,758 new vacancies spread across 105 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £35,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

556 Software Developers 

517 Sales Executives

478 Data Analysts

467 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

451 Project Management Associates

239 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

184 Construction Site Supervisors

143 Network Engineers

132 Tax Technicians

127 Policy Officers

123 Nursing Associates

112 Software Testers 

110 Investment Operations Specialists

109 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

108 Commercial Procurement & Supply

104 Cyber Security Technologists / Intrusion Analysts

103 Civil/Construction Engineering Technicians

100 Business Analysts  

  99 Technician Scientists

  89 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

  87 Children/Young People/Families Practitioners

  85 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  78 Insurance Professionals  

  72 Construction Design & Build Technicians

  70 Regulatory Compliance Officers

  63 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

  58 Marketing Executives

  56 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  53 Retail Management

  51 Sports Coaches   

  50 Associate Ambulance Practitioners

  50 Food Technology/Engineering/Production  

  40 Junior Management Consultants

  35 Human Resources Consultants / Partners     

  30 DevOps Engineers

  26 Learning, Skills & Development Practitioners  

  24 Healthcare Assistant Practitioners

  23 Adult Social Care Leaders

  22 Nuclear Technicians

  22 Paraplanners / Financial Advisers

  21 Actuarial Technicians

  21 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians 

  20 Quality Practitioners

  18 Automation & Control Engineers

  18 Hospitality Management

  17 Internal Audit Practitioners

  17 Mineral Products Technicians

  16 Estate Agency Negotiators

  16 Media Production Co-ordinators

  14 Fibre Cable Engineers

  14 Journalists

  13 Brewers 

  13 Housing & Property Management

  13 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

  12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

  11 Improvement Specialists

  10 Dairy Technologists

  10 Operations Management   

    9 Hearing Aid Dispensers

    9 Naval Architects / Marine Engineering Technicians

    8 Hygiene Specialists

    8 Railway Engineering Technicians

    7 Logistics/Supply Chain Specialists

    7 Revenue & Welfare Benefits Officers    

    6 Employability Practitioners

    5 Architectural Technicians

    5 Healthcare Science Associates: Cardiorespiratory/Sleep Physiology

    5 Digital Community Management

    4 Conveyancing Technicians

    4 Healthcare Science Associates: Audiology    

    4 Recruitment Consultants/Resourcers   

    4 Unified Communications Trouble Shooters

    3 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioners

    3 Counter Fraud Investigators

    3 Post-Production Technical Operators (Film/TV)

    3 School Business Professionals

    2 Healthcare Science Associates: Medical Engineering

    2 Healthcare Science Associates: Medical Physics

    2 Healthcare Science Associates: MRI Radiography

    2 Healthcare Science Associates: Phlebotomy

    2 Historic Site Advisers

    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 Fire Safety Inspector

    1 Fitness Club Manager

    1 Healthcare Science Associate: Speech Therapy

    1 Intelligence Analyst

    1 Lighting Designer

    1 Metrology Technician

    1 Passenger Transport Management

    1 Sports Development Officer   

    1 Textiles Technician

    1 Wedding Accessories Designer

    1 Wedding Venue Co-ordinator

Going forward

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

© Alan Bullock, 22/8/2021

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