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Trish Murphy: Grow your own talent

As Apprenticeships Lead at the RTPI, I am passionate about the role apprenticeships can play in developing people, providing opportunities to a diverse audience whilst allowing talented and qualified sector specialists to share knowledge and experience.

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I am delighted to see the Chartered Town Planner apprenticeship go from strength to strength supporting individuals to get into planning, progressing to Chartered status and providing employers with another way to engage, support and retain staff in the sector.

You don’t have to take my word for it – see what our first two apprentices to achieve Chartered Status - Amy Powell (Edgars) and Alice Higgitt (Savills) - have to say about their apprenticeship journey.

An apprenticeship is definitely not an easy option. The ability to combine study with on the job learning while meeting challenging deadline are skills to be celebrated. Support and mentoring by employers in the sector is a crucial and rewarding part of the process, and helps junior colleagues to develop their own line management skills.  

Not all employers can afford to recruit and train new staff. The beauty of apprenticeships is that they can be used to upskill existing staff. They are a great way to develop and train existing staff often increasing motivation and aiding employee retention. 

With increasingly busy lives and demands on time, not everybody has the capacity or desire to study for a degree. This is where the recently developed L4 Town Planning Assistant may be an option, particularly for some school leavers. Employers can actively ‘grow their own’ and introduce local residents to a new career, by providing an opportunity to upskill and get involved in different aspects of planning, and support Chartered Town Planners with their work. It has to be a good option especially for local planning authorities and we would like to see more training providers delivering this apprenticeship. Having worked in the training provider sector, I know it will be a case of demand. We need employers interested in this new scheme knocking on the door of local providers requesting this apprenticeship.

Finally, and for me most importantly – apprenticeships really can change lives. They can provide opportunities to those who may not have been, or are not currently in, a position to go to college or University in the traditional way. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t make good planners and great employees – it is just that they may not have had the means, ability or know how at that time to pursue those opportunities.

I know I have already said finally……..but anyway,  we know there is a current skills shortage in the planning sector and I often hear people say apprenticeships can help. Yes, they definitely can.  However, they are not a quick fix. They take time and investment to make them work well.  We need to keep turning the dial to ensure we have a pipeline of town planning apprentices working their way through the system. Education is a devolved matter in the UK and currently our schemes are running in England. We are pursuing options to get agreement from the rest of the country - watch this space!

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