Week 80: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England post COVID – some intriguing trends

Latest reflections

DAs have started to stir again slightly after a very quiet summer, while HAs were plentiful. The most prominent DA posting was for 10 Solicitors with Mishcon de Reya in London, followed by 3 Cyber Security Analysts at CGI in Reading. EY, IBM and Morrisons have also shown their hand, but as yet I have no sense of numbers and therefore I haven’t included them in my data up to now.  

Meanwhile, the most prolific HAs were:

  • 28 Sales Executives
  • 14 Software Developers
  • 10 Software Testers
  • 8 Business Analysts
  • 8 Data Analysts

For the first time, this meant that Sales Executives have overtaken Software Developers at the top of the HA leader-board. Without collecting my occupational data, I don’t think I would ever have imagined that Sales Executives would make up almost 10% of all Higher Apprenticeships. And that’s without including 20 Sales Executive HA vacancies with CCS Media this week, which I recognised as a repeat posting. I make every effort to exclude repeat postings from my data.

Meanwhile, this week’s image from my own collection of photos reflects Greater Manchester re-asserting itself as one of the busiest centres of activity. There were 23 vacancies within its boundaries this week, all of them HAs, and for anyone who knows the city it’s quite intriguing to see exactly where the vacancies were located. Remarkably 16 of them were in Bury, while 3 were in Stockport and the other 4 in Heywood, Hyde, Sale and Swinton.      

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, Not Going to Uni and Rate My Apprenticeship.

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 27th September to 1st October 2021, I recorded:

  • 35 new Degree Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 149 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

In the 80 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 1st October 2021) I’ve now recorded:

  • 6,138 new Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7) and 6,403 new Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5), giving a total of 12,541

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 80 weeks since lockdown: 77 DAs + 80 HAs = 157 total 

This shows that there’s been a gradual rise in HAs over the past three years, but a drop in DAs since early-summer 2021. However, there are signs that DA activity is starting to pick up again after the customary summer lull.       

Updated regional analysis

The 12,541 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (2,767)
  • Yorkshire (1,187)
  • West Midlands (791)
  • Greater Manchester (666)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (518)
  • Hampshire (494)
  • Berkshire (412)
  • Hertfordshire (371)
  • Surrey (334)
  • Nottinghamshire (279)
  • Tyne & Wear (275)
  • Lancashire (266)
  • Cheshire (254)
  • Cambridgeshire (250)
  • Essex (248)
  • Sussex (224)
  • Warwickshire (222)
  • Merseyside (203)
  • Suffolk (196)
  • Leicestershire (175)
  • Devon (171)
  • Cumbria (160)
  • Kent (160)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (157)
  • Oxfordshire (155)
  • Staffordshire (154)
  • Northamptonshire (152)
  • Wiltshire (148)
  • County Durham (147)
  • Buckinghamshire (140)
  • Derbyshire (129)
  • Dorset (126)
  • Worcestershire (121)
  • Norfolk (117)
  • Bedfordshire (109)
  • Lincolnshire (85)
  • Shropshire (60)
  • Isle of Wight (32)
  • Cornwall (23)
  • Herefordshire (22)
  • Northumberland (12)
  • Rutland (1)
  • Work from your own home (1)
  • Not specified (27) 

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.

  • 2,767   London (8,962,000: 3.09)
  • 1,951   South East (9,180,000: 2.13)
  • 1,549   North West (7,341,000: 2.11)
  • 1,370   West Midlands (5,934,000: 2.31)
  • 1,291   East of England (6,236,000: 2.07)
  • 1,187   Yorkshire & Humber (5,503,000: 2.16)
  • 1,143   South West (5,625,000: 2.03)
  •    818   East Midlands (4,836,000: 1.69)
  •    437   North East (2,670,000: 1.64)
  •      27   Not specified
  •        1   Work from own home 

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 6,138 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: 

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

686 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

495 Police Constables

455 Nurses (418 Adult, 24 Mental Health, 5 Learning Disability, 5 Older People, 3 Children)

383 Software Engineers

319 Chartered Managers (General)

271 Civil Engineers

240 Project Managers

201 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

176 Data Scientists/Analysts

172 Chartered Building/Property/Valuation Surveyors  

132 Product Design & Development Engineers

125 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

114 Food Technology/Production /Manufacturing Professionals

111 Supply Chain Leaders

104 Digital Marketing Professionals

  93 Aerospace Engineers

  85 Cyber Security Professionals

  82 Financial Services Professionals

  77 Sales Professionals

  75 Retail Leaders

  73 Network Engineers

  65 Manufacturing Engineers

  64 Laboratory Scientists

  55 Professional Economists 

  53 Construction Managers

  47 Building Services Design Engineers 

  40 Control Engineers

  43 Solicitors

  37 Environmental Practitioners

  37 Nuclear Engineers

  36 Operating Department Practitioners

  36 User Experience (UX) Design Professionals

  33 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

  29 Manufacturing & Production Managers (non-food)        

  25 Automotive Engineers

  24 Town Planners

  21 Diagnostic Radiographers

  20 Clinical Trials Specialists

  19 Creative Digital Design Professionals   

  19 Materials Science Technologists

  17 Packaging Professionals

  16 Environmental Health Officers

  15 Human Resources / People Professionals  

  12 Chemical Engineers

  12 Weapons Munitions & Explosives Engineers

  11 Recruitment Professionals

  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 Geospatial Mapping/Surveying Professionals

    7 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Biomedical Science

    7 Non-Destructive Testing Engineers

    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 Social Workers 

    5 Electro-Mechanical/Mechatronics Engineers

    5 Operations Analysts

    4 Agricultural/Horticultural Advisers

    4 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Digital Healthcare Science

    3 Compliance & Risk Specialists

    3 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Bioinformatics

    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 6,403 new vacancies spread across 112 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £35,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

614 Sales Executives

603 Software Developers 

516 Data Analysts

491 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

480 Project Management Associates

244 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

202 Construction Site Supervisors

161 Network Engineers

140 Tax Technicians

135 Software Testers 

128 Policy Officers

127 Nursing Associates

126 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

125 Civil/Site Engineering Technicians

122 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

121 Business Analysts  

115 Cyber Security Technologists

111 Investment Operations Specialists

111 Technician Scientists

110 Commercial Procurement & Supply Practitioners

  99 School Sports Coaches    

  96 Children/Young People/Families Practitioners

  89 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  86 Construction Design & Build Technicians

  80 Insurance Professionals  

  75 Regulatory Compliance Officers

  68 Marketing Executives

  65 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

  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     

  37 DevOps Engineers

  27 Healthcare Assistant Practitioners

  26 Learning, Skills & Development Practitioners  

  24 Paraplanners / Financial Advisers

  23 Adult Social Care Leaders

  23 Brewers 

  23 Quality Practitioners

  22 Hospitality Managers

  22 Nuclear Technicians

  21 Actuarial Technicians

  21 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians 

  20 Estate Agency Negotiators

  19 Automation & Control Engineers

  17 Internal Audit Practitioners

  17 Mineral Products Technicians

  16 Media Production Co-ordinators

  15 Dairy Technologists

  15 Housing & Property Managers

  14 Fibre Cable Engineers

  14 Journalists

  14 Police Community Support Officers

  13 Improvement Specialists

  13 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

  12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

  12 Recruitment Consultants/Resourcers

  12 Revenue & Welfare Benefits Officers    

  11 Operations Managers   

  10 Vehicle Damage Assessors  

    9 Early Years Lead Practitioners

    9 Hearing Aid Dispensers

    9 Naval Architects / Marine Engineering Technicians

    9 Railway Engineering Technicians

    8 Hygiene Specialists

    8 Logistics/Supply Chain Specialists

    6 Employability Practitioners

    5 Architectural Technicians

    5 Digital Community Managers

    5 Healthcare Science Associates: Audiology    

    5 Healthcare Science Associates: Cardiorespiratory/Sleep Physiology

    4 Conveyancing Technicians

    4 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioners

    4 Counter Fraud Investigators

    4 Fire Safety Inspectors

    4 Unified Communications Trouble Shooters

    3 Information Managers

    3 Post-Production Technical Operators (Film/TV)

    3 School Business Professionals

    3 Senior Culinary Chefs

    2 Early Intervention Practitioners

    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 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 Facilities Manager

    1 Fitness Club Manager

    1 Gymnastics & Trampolining Coach

    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

All being well, my next update will be posted on 17th October.

© Alan Bullock, 3/10/2021

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