Week 82: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England post COVID – lots of activity

Latest reflections

This update covers two weeks, during which I’ve recorded nearly 500 new vacancies. Most parts of the country and a wide range of occupational areas saw significant activity and my cumulative data provides an updated picture of a changing careers landscape and how different regions compare.

One of numerous highlights was the posting of 14 Countryside Ranger HAs, dispersed across an unusual selection of locations from Cornwall to Yorkshire in or near the following towns: Helston, Bovey Tracey, Glastonbury, Brockenhurst, Shrewton, Chippenham, Stroud, Bewdley, Minsterley, Ramsey (Cambs), Southwold, Brancaster, Stamford and Wheldrake. For that somewhat tenuous reason, my choice of photographic image is one I took several years ago of Rodborough Hill near my hometown of Stroud.   

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 more than a year’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 two-week period, from 4th to 17th October 2021, I recorded:

  • 214 new Degree Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 274 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

In the 82 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 17th October 2021) I’ve now recorded:

  • 6,352 new Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7) and 6,677 new Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5), giving a total of 13,029

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 82 weeks since lockdown: 78 DAs + 81 HAs = 159 total 

This shows that there’s been a continuing rise in HAs over the past three years, while DAs are now starting to recover after their customary summer lull.       

Updated regional analysis

The 13,029 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (2,857)
  • Yorkshire (1,236)
  • West Midlands (810)
  • Greater Manchester (683)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (529)
  • Hampshire (513)
  • Berkshire (438)
  • Hertfordshire (381)
  • Surrey (341)
  • Nottinghamshire (293)
  • Tyne & Wear (278)
  • Lancashire (277)
  • Cheshire (261)
  • Essex (257)
  • Cambridgeshire (255)
  • Sussex (247)
  • Merseyside (234)
  • Warwickshire (224)
  • Suffolk (198)
  • Devon (192)
  • Leicestershire (176)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (171)
  • Kent (165)
  • Cumbria (164)
  • Northamptonshire (164)
  • Oxfordshire (158)
  • Staffordshire (156)
  • County Durham (153)
  • Wiltshire (152)
  • Buckinghamshire (145)
  • Derbyshire (137)
  • Dorset (133)
  • Worcestershire (126)
  • Bedfordshire (120)
  • Norfolk (119)
  • Lincolnshire (98)
  • Shropshire (62)
  • Isle of Wight (32)
  • Herefordshire (24)
  • Cornwall (24)
  • Northumberland (12)
  • Rutland (1)
  • Work from your own home (1)
  • Not specified (32) 

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.

  • 2,857   London (8,962,000: 3.19)
  • 2,039   South East (9,180,000: 2.22)
  • 1,619   North West (7,341,000: 2.21)
  • 1,402   West Midlands (5,934,000: 2.36)
  • 1,330   East of England (6,236,000: 2.13)
  • 1,236   Yorkshire & Humber (5,503,000: 2.25)
  • 1,201   South West (5,625,000: 2.14)
  •    866   East Midlands (4,836,000: 1.79)
  •    446   North East (2,670,000: 1.67)
  •      33   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 6,352 new vacancies spread across 88 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,708 to £30,629pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

697 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

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

495 Police Constables

468 Nurses (418 Adult, 31 Mental Health, 11 Learning Disability, 5 Older People, 3 Children)

404 Software Engineers

336 Chartered Managers (General)

280 Civil Engineers

248 Project Managers

207 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

178 Chartered Building/Property/Valuation Surveyors  

176 Data Scientists/Analysts

140 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

134 Food Technology/Production /Manufacturing Professionals

134 Product Design & Development Engineers

121 Supply Chain Leaders

104 Digital Marketing Professionals

102 Aerospace Engineers

  97 Cyber Security Professionals

  82 Financial Services Professionals

  78 Sales Professionals

  75 Retail Leaders

  73 Network Engineers

  71 Manufacturing Engineers

  65 Laboratory Scientists

  58 Solicitors

  55 Professional Economists 

  53 Construction Managers

  49 Building Services Design Engineers 

  42 Control Engineers

  42 Nuclear Engineers

  39 User Experience (UX) Design Professionals

  38 Environmental Practitioners

  36 Operating Department Practitioners

  33 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

  29 Manufacturing & Production Managers (non-food)        

  25 Automotive Engineers

  24 Town Planners

  22 Creative Digital Design Professionals   

  21 Diagnostic Radiographers

  20 Clinical Trials Specialists

  19 Materials Science Technologists

  18 Human Resources / People Professionals  

  17 Packaging Professionals

  16 Environmental Health Officers

  12 Chemical Engineers

  12 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Physiology (8 Cardiovascular / 4 Respiratory/Sleep) 

  12 Weapons Munitions & Explosives Engineers

  11 Recruitment Professionals

  10 Architectural Assistants

  10 Broadcast/Media Systems Engineers

   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 Electro-Mechanical/Mechatronics Engineers

    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 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 Population Health Intelligence Analyst

    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 6,677 new vacancies spread across 114 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £35,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

647 Sales Executives

634 Software Developers 

536 Data Analysts

515 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

487 Project Management Associates

247 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

202 Construction Site Supervisors

173 Network Engineers

156 Nursing Associates

145 Tax Technicians

142 Software Testers 

130 Policy Officers

127 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

126 Civil/Site Engineering Technicians

125 Business Analysts  

125 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

121 Cyber Security Technologists

115 Technician Scientists

114 Commercial Procurement & Supply Practitioners

111 Investment Operations Specialists

100 School Sports Coaches    

  98 Children/Young People/Families Practitioners

  92 Building Services Engineering Technicians

  86 Construction Design & Build Technicians

  83 Insurance Professionals  

  75 Marketing Executives

  75 Regulatory Compliance Officers

  72 Retail Managers

  67 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

  56 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  54 Food Technology/Engineering/Production Technicians 

  50 Associate Ambulance Practitioners

  40 DevOps Engineers

  40 Human Resources Consultants/Partners     

  40 Junior Management Consultants

  28 Healthcare Assistant Practitioners

  27 Quality Practitioners

  26 Learning, Skills & Development Practitioners  

  25 Paraplanners / Financial Advisers

  24 Adult Social Care Leaders

  24 Hospitality Managers

  23 Brewers 

  23 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

  17 Recruitment Consultants/Resourcers

  16 Media Production Co-ordinators

  16 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

  15 Dairy Technologists

  15 Housing & Property Managers

  14 Countryside Rangers

  14 Early Years Lead Practitioners

  14 Fibre Cable Engineers

  14 Journalists

  14 Police Community Support Officers

  13 Improvement Specialists

  12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

  12 Revenue & Welfare Benefits Officers    

  11 Operations Managers   

  10 Railway Engineering Technicians

  10 Vehicle Damage Assessors  

    9 Hearing Aid Dispensers

    9 Naval Architects / Marine Engineering Technicians

    8 Hygiene Specialists

    8 Logistics/Supply Chain Specialists

    6 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioners

    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 Counter Fraud Investigators

    4 Fire Safety Inspectors

    4 School Business Professionals

    4 Unified Communications Trouble Shooters

    3 Information Managers

    3 Post-Production Technical Operators (Film/TV)

    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 Games Designer

    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

I hope to continue updating these reports at frequent intervals.

© Alan Bullock, 17/10/2021

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