Week 88: Higher & Degree Apprenticeship vacancies in England in the COVID era – regional patterns continue to evolve

Latest reflections

A further 384 new vacancies were added to my data this week, a figure that was boosted by the inclusion of multiple HA vacancies with Mazars and Deloitte. For the latter I have made informed but very cautious initial estimates of numbers for each of their locations and specialisms. Digital Technology Solutions DAs along with Nursing and Surveying were also prominent and the total number of Chartered Surveying vacancies reached 440, with (somewhat quirkily) an equal split between Quantity Surveying and other fields.

As ever, I think my occupational analyses become increasingly interesting over time as cumulative numbers build and patterns evolve. The same is true of the regional data, which I began to collate because of my curiosity about how much variation there might be across different parts of the country. In this respect, Greater London certainly dominates the picture, but when you look at the overall figures per head of population the spread of vacancies is more widely dispersed than I originally imagined. In fact, the pecking order currently looks like this:  

  1. Greater London
  2. West Midlands
  3. Yorkshire & Humber
  4. North West
  5. South East
  6. South West
  7. East
  8. North East
  9. East Midlands

Just to enhance that picture there were three vacancies in Cornwall this week and one in Northumberland, plus a flurry of Mental Health and Adult Care vacancies in Stoke-on-Trent and Crewe. Bristol and the area around Gloucester and Cheltenham were quite prominent too and my featured image is a photo I took five years ago overlooking a part of Gloucestershire with which I have some very close personal and family associations.    

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. From this week onwards I will also be checking out the listings on the Amazing Apprenticeships site.

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 suggest 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 22nd to 28th November 2021, I recorded:

  • 108 new Degree Apprenticeship vacancies and
  • 276 new Higher Apprenticeship vacancies

In the 88 weeks since the start of lockdown (23rd March 2020 to 28th November 2021) I’ve now recorded:

  • 7,339 new Degree Apprenticeships (Levels 6/7) and
  • 7,844 new Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5)
  • giving a total of 15,183

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 88 weeks since lockdown: 83 DAs + 89 HAs = 172 total 

This shows that there’s been a continuing rise in HAs over the past three years, while DAs have returned to a state of equilibrium.

Updated regional analysis

The 15,183 higher and degree apprenticeships advertised in England since the start of lockdown have been distributed as follows:

  • Greater London (3,416)
  • Yorkshire (1,441)
  • West Midlands (945)
  • Greater Manchester (804)
  • Bristol & Gloucestershire (647)
  • Hampshire (590)
  • Berkshire (502)
  • Hertfordshire (433)
  • Surrey (400)
  • Tyne & Wear (356)
  • Nottinghamshire (319)
  • Cheshire (304)
  • Lancashire (301)
  • Merseyside (294)
  • Cambridgeshire (289)
  • Sussex (286)
  • Essex (284)
  • Warwickshire (234)
  • Staffordshire (230)
  • Suffolk (219)
  • Devon (209)
  • Leicestershire (202)
  • Wiltshire (202)
  • Kent (182)
  • Somerset & South Bristol (180)
  • Northamptonshire (178)
  • Buckinghamshire (176)
  • Cumbria (173)
  • Bedfordshire (172)
  • County Durham (166)
  • Oxfordshire (163)
  • Dorset (150)
  • Derbyshire (144)
  • Worcestershire (140)
  • Norfolk (133)
  • Lincolnshire (105)
  • Shropshire (65)
  • Isle of Wight (33)
  • Cornwall (33)
  • Herefordshire (27)
  • Northumberland (17)
  • Rutland (1)
  • Work from your own home (3)
  • Not specified (35) 

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 quite as disproportionate as they might appear. (NB In my data Yorkshire & Humber includes North Humberside and East Midlands includes South Humberside.)

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.

  • 3,416   London (8,962,000: 3.81)
  • 2,332   South East (9,180,000: 2.54)
  • 1,876   North West (7,341,000: 2.56)
  • 1,641   West Midlands (5,934,000: 2.77)
  • 1,530   East of England (6,236,000: 2.45)
  • 1,441   Yorkshire & Humber (5,503,000: 2.62)
  • 1,421   South West (5,625,000: 2.53)
  •    946   East Midlands (4,836,000: 1.96)
  •    542   North East (2,670,000: 2.03)
  •      38   Not specified/homeworking 

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 7,339 new vacancies spread across 92 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £6,708 to £30,629pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

905 Accountancy/Tax/Audit Professionals

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

495 Police Constables

491 Nurses (421 Adult, 51 Mental Health, 11 Learning Disability, 5 Older People, 3 Children)

472 Software Engineers

436 Chartered Managers (General)

311 Civil Engineers

289 Project Managers

220 Chartered Building/Property/Valuation/Land Surveyors  

220 Chartered Quantity Surveyors 

213 Data Scientists/Analysts

168 Electrical/Electronic Engineers

153 Product Design & Development Engineers

140 Food Technology/Production /Manufacturing Professionals

122 Supply Chain Leaders

121 Digital Marketing Professionals

120 Cyber Security Professionals

106 Aerospace Engineers

  88 Manufacturing Engineers

  85 Solicitors

  83 Financial Services Professionals

  82 Sales Professionals

  75 Retail Leaders

  73 Network Engineers

  69 Laboratory Scientists

  61 Building Services Design Engineers 

  61 Professional Economists 

  54 Construction Managers

  52 Railway/Rail Systems Engineers

  44 Environmental Practitioners

  43 Control Engineers

  42 Nuclear Engineers

  39 User Experience (UX) Design Professionals

  36 Operating Department Practitioners 

  30 Manufacturing & Production Managers (non-food)        

  25 Automotive Engineers

  25 Diagnostic Radiographers

  24 Town Planners

  23 Creative Digital Design Professionals   

  23 Electro-Mechanical/Mechatronics Engineers

  21 Packaging Professionals

  20 Clinical Trials Specialists

  19 Materials Science Technologists

  18 Human Resources / People Professionals  

  16 Environmental Health Officers

  14 Chemical Engineers    

  13 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Physiology (8 Cardiovascular / 5 Respiratory/Sleep) 

  12 Broadcast/Media Systems Engineers

  12 Recruitment Professionals

  12 Weapons Munitions & Explosives Engineers

  11 Architectural Assistants

  10 Internal Audit Professionals    

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

    9 Transport Planners    

    8 Gas Transmission Engineers

    8 Geospatial Mapping/Surveying Professionals

    8 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Biomedical Science

    8 Occupational Therapists

    8 Podiatrists

    8 Propulsion Engineers

    8 Social Workers 

    7 Marketing Managers

    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)

    5 Operations Analysts

    4 Agricultural/Horticultural Advisers

    4 Fire Safety Engineers

    4 Healthcare Science Practitioners: Digital Healthcare Science

    3 Compliance & Risk Specialists

    3 Fitness/Leisure Centre Managers

    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 Brewer

    1 Charity Manager

    1 Human Performance Engineer 

    1 Marine Engineer

    1 Pensions Manager

    1 Population Health Intelligence Analyst

    1 Visual Merchandiser

*Digital Technology Solutions (General) has encompassed or led to the following range of specialisms:   

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, FinTech Expert, DevOps Engineer, Solutions Engineer, Support Engineer, Cloud Engineer, Sales Engineer, Scientific Computing Specialist, Platform Manager, Service 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, Innovation Foundry, and Continuous Improvement & Automation Specialist. Some list and it keeps on growing!

Higher Apprenticeships (Levels 4/5):

In total there have been 7,844 new vacancies spread across 117 occupational areas and minimum starting salaries have ranged from £5,590 to £35,000pa. The occupational breakdown is as follows: 

741 Sales Executives

699 Software Developers 

698 Trainee Accountants / Accounting Technicians

645 Data Analysts

552 Project Management Associates

264 Manufacturing Engineering Technicians 

258 Construction Site Supervisors

226 Tax Technicians

198 Nursing Associates

197 Network Engineers

171 Business Analysts  

161 Software Testers

148 Quantity Surveying Technicians  

147 Cyber Security Technologists

138 Civil/Site Engineering Technicians

138 Public Relations & Communications Assistants

130 Policy Officers

130 School Sports Coaches    

126 Commercial Procurement & Supply Practitioners

118 Technician Scientists

117 Children/Young People/Families Practitioners

111 Investment Operations Specialists

105 Building Services Engineering Technicians

101 Retail Managers

  90 Regulatory Compliance Officers

  88 Insurance Professionals 

  88 Marketing Executives

  79 Associate Ambulance Practitioners

  75 Buying & Merchandising Specialists

  57 Junior Management Consultants

  56 Electrical/Electronic Engineering Technicians

  54 Food Technology/Engineering/Production Technicians 

  46 Construction Design & Build Technicians

  45 DevOps Engineers

  42 Human Resources Consultants/Partners     

  38 Adult Care Lead Practitioners

  37 Recruitment Consultants/Resourcers

  34 Early Years Lead Practitioners

  33 Paraplanners / Financial Advisers

  28 Brewers 

  28 Healthcare Assistant Practitioners

  28 Quality Practitioners

  27 Hospitality Managers

  27 Learning Mentors / Skills & Development Practitioners

  26 Ordnance Munitions & Explosives Technicians

  25 Nuclear Technicians

  24 Actuarial Technicians

  21 Automotive Engineering/Propulsion Technicians 

  20 Automation & Control Engineers

  20 Estate Agency Negotiators

  18 Internal Audit Practitioners

  17 Mineral Products Technicians

  16 Housing & Property Managers

  16 Media Production Co-ordinators

  15 Dairy Technologists

  15 Operations Managers   

  15 Revenue & Welfare Benefits Officers    

  14 Countryside Rangers

  14 Fibre Cable Engineers

  14 Journalists

  14 Police Community Support Officers

  14 Vehicle Damage Assessors  

  13 Improvement Specialists 

  12 Broadcast & Media Systems Technicians

  11 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioners

  10 Railway Engineering Technicians

    9 Hearing Aid Dispensers

    9 Naval Architects / Marine Engineering Technicians

    9 Railway/Passenger Transport Operations Managers

    8 Hygiene Specialists

    8 Logistics/Supply Chain Specialists

    6 Employability Practitioners

    7 Healthcare Science Associates: Cardiorespiratory/Sleep Physiology

    6 Healthcare Science Associates: Audiology    

    6 School Business Professionals

    5 Architectural Technicians

    5 Digital Community Managers

    5 Information Managers

    5 Specialist Sports Coaches (3 Football, 1 Tennis, 1 Gymnastics & Trampoline)

    4 Conveyancing Technicians

    4 Counter Fraud Investigators

    4 Fire Safety Inspectors

    4 Unified Communications Trouble Shooters

    3 Healthcare Science Associates: Medical Engineering

    3 Post-Production Technical Operators (Film/TV)

    3 Rehabilitation Officers (Visual Impairment) 

    3 Senior Culinary Chefs

    3 Sports Development Officers   

    2 Building Information Modelling (BIM) Technicians

    2 Early Intervention Practitioners

    2 Facilities Managers

    2 Healthcare Science Associates: Medical Physics

    2 Healthcare Science Associates: MRI Radiography

    2 Healthcare Science Associates: Phlebotomy

    2 Historic Site Advisers

    2 Intelligence Analysts

    2 Paralegals

    2 Pensions Administrators

    2 Port Marine Operations Officers

    2 Tax Technology Technicians

    2 VFX Artists

    1 Acoustics Technician

    1 Arboriculturist

    1 Chemical Process Technician

    1 Community Energy Specialist

    1 Dental Technician

    1 Fitness Club Manager

    1 Fitness Instructor

    1 Games Designer

    1 Healthcare Science Associate: Biochemistry

    1 Healthcare Science Associate: Speech Therapy

    1 Horticultural / Landscape Design Practitioner

    1 Lighting Designer

    1 Metrology Technician

    1 Textiles Technician

    1 Wedding Accessories Designer

    1 Wedding Venue Co-ordinator

Going forward

I hope to continue updating these reports on a fairly frequent basis.

© Alan Bullock, 28/11/2021


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