Skip to main content
Close Menu Open Menu

Machel Bogues: Planning for your future

Machel Bogues is the RTPI's Equality, Diversity, and Inclusivity Manager

Students around England and Wales will be receiving their A-level exam results today. Those in Scotland  will have had theirs last week. That day was some time ago for me now, but I can still remember the tension and anxiety - around whether I had done well enough to get into my preferred university. If not, what then? And, even if I had, was it a good choice?  

In many ways getting your A-level results can feel like the start of your adult life, and I am sure I speak for everyone at the RTPI in wishing all the young adults the best.  

When I was choosing what I wanted to do at university the idea that there was such a profession as town (and country) planning, let alone that doing such a job would allow me to take decisions that could help build communities and tackle key social and global issues, was sadly lost on me.  

This lack of understanding of the planning profession remains a challenge. In my case it’s probably fair to say there has been no real loss to the profession, but how many talented young people who could easily thrive in the profession are being lost simply because they don’t know it exists?  

As a profession we must represent all the communities we work with and for if we are to deliver the best possible outcomes for society.

Planning can and does play a positive and proactive role in sustainable economic growth and development, placemaking for communities, and tackling climate change but to keep playing that role we need to have a consistent stream of talent entering the profession.  

We also need to make sure that the stream is as diverse as possible. As a profession we must represent all the communities we work with and for if we are to deliver the best possible outcomes for society. The RTPI’s first work experience programme - EXPLORE – is a pilot project, which works to achieve this stream of diverse talent entering the profession.  

Working with corporate social responsibility and outreach specialist Clever Egg, we have given 80 students the opportunity to work with 25 employers to explore a range of planning roles and projects and then reflect on the experience. This on-site experience was augmented by a series of webinars which allowed us to give the young people the opportunity to meet and hear from an even wider, diverse range of planners beyond their host employer.  

Early results show that this approach has had a significant impact. Of the young people who took part, 92% reported at the end of the placement that they would now consider a career in planning, up from just 38% at the start of the placement. This is a fantastic result, and I would be remiss to not take this opportunity to thank Clever Egg, our employers’ partners, and the BAME Planners Network who worked hard to support the webinars.  

EXPLORE set out to provide a quality experience for young people and test whether by doing so we can, potentially, influence or encourage them to think about a career in planning. The evidence is that we can, but we will need to be patient and keep pushing.  

I am reminded of the Jamaican proverb “Time longa dan rope” – time is longer than a rope which encourages one to be patient, work hard and eventually rewards will be reaped. We have made an excellent start with EXPLORE but we still have a way to go before we can be confident that large numbers of young people waiting for their exam results have a career in town planning in mind.  

Back to top