Alice Higgitt is a Chartered Town Planner at Savills who has recently become one of the first two Planners in England to come through the Chartered Town Planner Apprenticeship Programme.
Background to my career and the process
I studied an Undergraduate Degree in Geography at the University of the West of England and graduated in 2017 with a 2:1. Following this I took a gap year and went travelling around the world. Upon my return, I joined Berkeley Homes as a Junior Planner in September 2018, within the Land and Planning Team. I learned a lot at Berkeley but knew I wanted to work towards becoming a Chartered Member of the RTPI.
I knew that would require studying for an accredited Masters in Planning so in July 2019 I joined Savills as a Graduate Planner. I started the Graduate Scheme at Savills together with the part-time Apprenticeship Masters in Planning and Urban Design at London Southbank University in September 2019. I completed the Masters in October 2021 and graduated with a Distinction, something I am very proud of as studying and working a very busy job was challenging at times! Once I received my Certificate in December 2021, I submitted the Gateway submission and was elected as a Licentiate Member of the RTPI in January 2022. In February, I sat my Professional Discussion, and once passing this I was able to submit my written APC submission in May 2022. I was then elected as a Chartered Planner in June 2022.
My experience of the Degree Apprenticeship
The Apprenticeship Programme offered an opportunity for me to gain my accredited Masters degree in Planning whilst also working. This programme offered a comparatively quick route to becoming Chartered, which really appealed to me as I had already taken a bit of time off when travelling and worked elsewhere so I was a slightly older graduate and therefore keen to become a member of the RTPI as quickly as possible. The course was also appealing as it was extremely relevant to my job meaning there were many transferrable skills.
My overall experience during the Degree Apprenticeship was great. I learned so much during the course which was transferable into my everyday job, this was something I found particularly useful. In addition, one module in my second year was a practice APC submission and this gave a great insight into what the actual submission would entail, whilst also providing an opportunity to receive comments on my reflective journal and professional development plan from past APC Assessors. This meant that when I came to write my actual APC written submission, I already had a base to work with. Overall, I found the course very interesting and I managed to write my dissertation on a topic which directly related to my job.
The support from key people
The University itself provided a lot of support. In my second year we were given a Skills Coach to support us through the programme which was helpful as we were able to ask questions frequently and help was given where required. They were also in direct contact with the RTPI which was extremely useful so I was able to receive quick responses where necessary.
Savills have an internal Apprenticeship Team who help you from day one of your Apprenticeship all the way through to the day you receive confirmation of being elected as a Chartered Member. The whole team have been amazing and worked together with the University and the RTPI to solve any issues along the way but also to provide support where required. This level of support is something that I think employees at Savills on this route really benefit from.
The RTPI were also very helpful and quick to respond whenever I had any questions. They also were very supportive through the process, particularly as it was new and explained everything very clearly and precisely so I knew exactly what to submit at each stage.
Future Plans Now I’m a Chartered Member of the RTPI
Now I’m a Chartered Member of the RTPI, I am going to focus on building my career at Savills. I would like to get involved in discussions with key stakeholders which I previously did not have enough time for whilst studying. I am a member of Women In Property so I hope to attend more events and discussions they put on. I will also be speaking at the Young Planners Conference in October 2022 which is exciting.
My top three tips for those wanting to start the degree apprenticeship programme
- Read over all guidance to fully understand what each stage of the programme involves. For example, what you need to submit for the Gateway, how to prepare for the Professional Discussion and what to submit for the APC submission.
- Prepare a programme which sets out the timeline of events in order to ensure you stay on top of your work at all times.
- Allocate time once a week to update your Reflective Journal and your Off-The-Job training diary so you do not have to add it in months later as you may forget tasks you completed.
Find out more about apprenticeships