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Andrew Close: Good luck to all future planners

Andrew Close MRTPI is the RTPI’s Director of Education and Profession

I’m very aware as we enter August it is a step closer to the announcement of exam results. A friend of mine is waiting for their entry level Maths and Science in order to change career and progress onto a teacher training course. Plus my partner has fingers crossed that all his pupils pass their recently sat (or danced) ballroom exams!

On behalf of the RTPI, I would like to wish all school students the best in their career choices.

For those future planners out there, there are a number of choices for a career in planning and professional chartership with the RTPI. It is possible to begin the journey at university, or a combination of employment and study through an apprenticeship. Some, like the teacher friend above, come into a new vocation a bit later on.

So, why plan? Urban and rural settlements have all grown from an idea and vision over time, a need for shelter, work and food. This was the basis for the planning system we saw developed at the turn of the last century and still holds true today. Nowadays ideas transform into local development plans and strategies set out by governments, local councils and even communities themselves. It all requires professional planners to help shape, discuss, analyse, champion and balance environmental, social and economic goals. We are focused on achieving sustainable development: to determine the most effective and desired use of land and buildings. It can be a light-bulb moment when young (and older) people realise that most roads, schools, houses and even parks and play areas have been subject to what was traditionally called ‘town and country planning’ at some point.

So, the planning profession must continue to support a range of talent that is inquisitive about the whys and the hows and allow new and diverse ideas to flourish both in and beyond education. As part of our ‘Future Planners’ campaign, the RTPI has developed and published classroom resources, comics and games to explain a career in planning.

We fund an opportunity to take part in a five-day placement within a planning team, to see what planners see and get a feel for what they do. This is a starting point to help employers plug gaps in the pipeline.

For a second year running, the EXPLORE work experience programme has provided secondary school pupils with the opportunity to ‘try out’ planning and experience and explore different companies or agencies. We fund an opportunity to take part in a five-day placement within a planning team, to see what planners see and get a feel for what they do.

This is a starting point to help employers plug gaps in the pipeline. They can take advantage of Chartered Town Planner Apprenticeships to attract new recruits into the world of employment. Planning Apprentices will 'learn while they earn’ in a job with a salary alongside studying for an RTPI-accredited qualification. This is one ‘hands-on’ route into planning. Alternatively, taking a graduate route with an academic qualification in planning is a well regarded and established route to bolster career progression and there are accredited degree courses across the UK and at some overseas universities. All accredited degrees have gone through a rigorous assessment and recognition process in order to demonstrate that they meet the RTPI learning outcomes. Look at our Study at University guidance page for more information.

The RTPI has also been central to addressing barriers that might be holding back this pipeline of talent and has created and secured investment for university Student Bursaries and Scholarships for under-represented groups. Take a look at the range of opportunities available.

This is key to driving fresh and innovative ideas within the planning industry from the next generation of planners. We are also celebrating early career planners through awards for research and practice, and you will be joining an important profession that has environmental and social outcomes.

Interested? Come help plan your world.

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