Week 77: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England post COVID – another mixed bag

Latest reflections

HEPI Director Nick Hillman wrote in a recent blogpost that apprenticeship numbers are only a “miniscule fraction” of total HE entrants and this has largely been borne out by my own data. In Week 77 I recorded just 9 new DA vacancies in the whole of England, although numbers will surely pick up as Autumn kicks in.

However, HAs have continued to bowl along quite healthily and, as ever, my occupational data gives an evolving glimpse into the real jobs that are out there. In recent weeks PR Assistants, School Sports Coaches, Project Management Associates and Brewers have featured prominently and Sales Executives are closing in on Software Developers at the top of the leader-board. Data Analysts and various Construction specialists continue to thrive too and there were also a further 3 new vacancies in Regulatory Compliance this week. The data has had quite an impact on the way I perceive the range of career choices that are open to 18-year old school and college leavers.

For punching above its weight, I’ve picked out a recent photo I took in Sussex as this week’s featured image after 7 new vacancies were posted in Crawley, Horsham and East Grinstead. The light at the end of Sharpthorne Tunnel on the Bluebell Railway seems mildly appropriate.

Background and methodology

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 at Levels 4 to 7 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 figures.

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 figures and I now use the two 70-week periods either side of lockdown as a benchmark.

My data will never be fully reliable because not all vacancies are advertised nationally in a way that also gives an indication of actual numbers and locations. However, the analyses that I’ve built up paint an intriguing picture of what’s out there in a changing post-18 career landscape. The figures also suggests that supply is never likely to match demand and that there may be a significant mismatch between the occupations to which young people often aspire and the reality of what’s available.  

Headline data

During the latest period, from 6th to 12th September 2021, I recorded:

  • 9 new Degree Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 91 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

In the 77 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 12th September 2021) I’ve now recorded:

  • 6,068 new Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7) and 6,051 new Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5), giving a total of 12,119

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 77 weeks since lockdown: 79 DAs + 79 HAs = 158 total 

This is the first time since lockdown that the overall weekly HA average has caught up with the DA average.      

Updated regional analysis

The 12,119 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (2,702)
  • Yorkshire (1,150)
  • West Midlands (756)
  • Greater Manchester (619)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (505)
  • Hampshire (490)
  • Berkshire (400)
  • Hertfordshire (352)
  • Surrey (302)
  • Nottinghamshire (272)
  • Tyne & Wear (265)
  • Lancashire (258)
  • Cheshire (251)
  • Cambridgeshire (242)
  • Essex (237)
  • Warwickshire (220)
  • Sussex (217)
  • Merseyside (199)
  • Suffolk (194)
  • Leicestershire (171)
  • Devon (168)
  • Cumbria (159)
  • Kent (158)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (150)
  • Staffordshire (149)
  • Oxfordshire (148)
  • County Durham (146)
  • Northamptonshire (143)
  • Wiltshire (141)
  • Buckinghamshire (131)
  • Dorset (126)
  • Derbyshire (123)
  • Worcestershire (114)
  • Norfolk (109)
  • Bedfordshire (104)
  • Lincolnshire (79)
  • Shropshire (58)
  • Isle of Wight (32)
  • Cornwall (23)
  • Herefordshire (21)
  • Northumberland (12)
  • 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.

  • 2,702   London (8,962,000: 3.01)
  • 1,878   South East (9,180,000: 2.05)
  • 1,486   North West (7,341,000: 2.02)
  • 1,318   West Midlands (5,934,000: 2.22)
  • 1,238   East of England (6,236,000: 1.99)
  • 1,150   Yorkshire & Humber (5,503,000: 2.09)
  • 1,113   South West (5,625,000: 1.98)
  •    786   East Midlands (4,836,000: 1.63)
  •    426   North East (2,670,000: 1.60)
  •      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 Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7):

In total there have been 6,068 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: 

682 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

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

495 Police Constables

454 Nurses (417 Adult, 24 Mental Health, 5 Learning Disability, 5 Older People, 3 Children)

381 Software Engineers

319 Chartered Managers (General)

270 Civil Engineers

235 Project Managers

200 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

174 Data Scientists/Analysts

169 Chartered Building/Property/Valuation Surveyors  

132 Product Design & Development Engineers

125 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

114 Food Technology/Production /Manufacturing Professionals

107 Supply Chain Leaders

101 Digital Marketing Professionals

  93 Aerospace Engineers

  82 Cyber Security Professionals

  82 Financial Services Professionals

  75 Retail Leaders

  74 Sales Professionals

  73 Network Engineers

  65 Manufacturing Engineers

  63 Laboratory Scientists

  55 Professional Economists 

  53 Construction Managers

  45 Building Services Design Engineers 

  40 Control Engineers

  37 Nuclear Engineers

  36 Environmental Practitioners

  36 Operating Department Practitioners

  36 User Experience (UX) Design Professionals

  33 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

  31 Solicitors

  29 Manufacturing & Production Managers (non-food)        

  25 Automotive Engineers

  24 Town Planners

  20 Clinical Trials Specialists

  19 Creative Digital Design Professionals   

  19 Diagnostic Radiographers

  19 Materials Science Technologists

  17 Packaging Professionals

  16 Environmental Health Officers

  15 Human Resources / People Professionals  

  12 Chemical Engineers

  12 Weapons Munitions & Explosives Engineers

  10 Broadcast/Media Systems 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 Managers

    6 Non-Destructive Testing Engineers

    6 Social Workers 

    5 Electro-Mechanical/Mechatronics Engineers

    5 Operations Analysts

    5 Recruitment Professionals

    4 Agricultural/Horticultural Advisers

    4 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Digital Healthcare Science

    3 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Bioinformatics

    3 Compliance & Risk Specialists

    2 Assistant Teachers

    2 Building Information Modelling (BIM) Specialists

    2 Buying & Procurement Professionals

    2 Chartered Legal Executives   

    2 Digital Transformation Engineers

    2 Education Technology Specialists

    2 Journalists

    2 Midwives

    2 Physiotherapists

    2 Radiotherapists

    2 Tax Technologists

    1 Charity Manager

    1 Human Performance Engineer 

    1 Marine Engineer

    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 (Levels 4/5):

In total there have been 6,051 new vacancies spread across 110 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £35,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

581 Software Developers 

572 Sales Executives

503 Data Analysts

474 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

470 Project Management Associates

240 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

192 Construction Site Supervisors

151 Network Engineers

137 Tax Technicians

127 Policy Officers

123 Nursing Associates

122 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

121 Software Testers 

111 Investment Operations Specialists

110 Business Analysts  

108 Commercial Procurement & Supply Practitioners

107 Cyber Security Technologists

103 Civil/Construction Engineering Technicians

102 Technician Scientists

  94 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

  90 Children/Young People/Families Practitioners

  88 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  79 Insurance Professionals  

  76 Construction Design & Build Technicians

  73 Regulatory Compliance Officers

  67 Marketing Executives

  64 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

  63 School Sports Coaches    

  58 Retail Managers

  56 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  54 Food Technology/Engineering/Production Technicians 

  50 Associate Ambulance Practitioners

  40 Junior Management Consultants

  39 Human Resources Consultants/Partners     

  32 DevOps Engineers

  26 Learning, Skills & Development Practitioners  

  25 Healthcare Assistant Practitioners

  24 Paraplanners / Financial Advisers

  23 Adult Social Care Leaders

  22 Nuclear Technicians

  21 Actuarial Technicians

  21 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians 

  21 Quality Practitioners

  19 Hospitality Managers

  18 Automation & Control Engineers

  17 Brewers 

  17 Internal Audit Practitioners

  17 Mineral Products Technicians

  16 Estate Agency Negotiators

  16 Media Production Co-ordinators

  14 Fibre Cable Engineers

  14 Journalists

  14 Police Community Support Officers

  13 Housing & Property Managers

  13 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

  12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

  12 Revenue & Welfare Benefits Officers    

  11 Improvement Specialists

  11 Operations Managers   

  10 Dairy Technologists

  10 Recruitment Consultants/Resourcers   

    9 Hearing Aid Dispensers

    9 Naval Architects / Marine Engineering Technicians

    9 Railway Engineering Technicians

    8 Hygiene Specialists

    7 Logistics/Supply Chain Specialists

    6 Employability Practitioners

    5 Architectural Technicians

    5 Healthcare Science Associates: Cardiorespiratory/Sleep Physiology

    5 Digital Community Managers

    5 Early Years Lead Practitioners

    4 Conveyancing Technicians

    4 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioners

    4 Healthcare Science Associates: Audiology    

    4 Unified Communications Trouble Shooters

    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 Managers

    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 Early Intervention Practitioner

    1 Facilities Manager

    1 Fire Safety Inspector

    1 Fitness Club Manager

    1 Healthcare Science Associate: Biochemistry

    1 Healthcare Science Associate: Speech Therapy

    1 Intelligence Analyst

    1 Lighting Designer

    1 Metrology Technician

    1 Passenger Transport Manager

    1 Sports Development Officer   

    1 Tennis Coach

    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, 12/9/2021

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