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RTPI to help tackle planning capacity in East of England

27 September 2016

The RTPI is joining forces with other stakeholders to help tackle problems around the recruitment and retention of planners in the East of England.

A review led by the East of England and National LGA and sponsored by St Albans City and District Council shows that the region is significantly lacking the planning capacity and skills to deliver growth and development.

Key issues

  • Lack of capacity – at the time of the survey there were 114 vacancies for planners across the region
  • An ageing workforce and lack of experienced senior planners ––not enough new planners / graduates to cope with increasing demand
  • High turnover and retention issues -  caused by limited career progression and training opportunities, and competition on salaries from London and the private sector
  • Quality of recruitment – a lack of flexibility in local government recruitment processes

The review surveyed all councils across the region, along with in depth interviews and a workshop for key stakeholders, including the RTPI, universities and further education colleges.

Andrew Close, RTPI’s Head of Careers, Education and Professional Development, said:

“This review echoes the critical local planning capacity issue that our own research has found out in the North West and Scotland. Graduate planner numbers have been increasing over the past few years, but generally there is some evidence of a skills and capacity squeeze at middle and senior management level as a result of cuts and recruitment freezes.

“The Institute has been on the front foot in developing new pathways into the profession (see below) and is committed to working with government, local authorities, the private sector and education sector to explore other access routes, for example degree apprenticeships.”

Planning education – RTPI consultation

The RTPI is currently reviewing its policy on planning education to ensure the routes to education remain up-to-date and attractive for students and future planners. Among the things being consulted are the time it takes to complete accredited undergraduate courses, and the level of practicality already taught alongside planning knowledge and skills. The consultation, ending on 3 October, welcome responses from all RTPI Members and anyone with an interest in planning education.

Initiatives to increase the number and diversity of planners

RTPI Technician Apprenticeship scheme - The 2-year scheme, developed by the RTPI and the Construction Industry Council, is aimed at people working in a technical or administrative support role in the field of planning and can lead to membership of the RTPI. It is an alternative route for school leavers to get into the planning profession and also opens up progression for existing staff.

RTPI Future Planners bursary - This fast growing bursary scheme aims to attract students with a good undergraduate non-planning degree to study an RTPI accredited Masters course.

RTPI distance learning course - The Joint Distance Learning Consortium runs an accredited programme over 3-7 years depending on experience and educational background.  You do not need a degree to be accepted onto this programme.

RTPI Future Planners - This is an exciting programme that aims to raise awareness of and foster interest in planning with school students generally aged 11-18.

Fast track graduate employment schemes - Some employers instigate graduate schemes where they employ an undergraduate from a related subject and offer a fixed term or permanent contract at an entry level salary. This can include day release and support for fees to study a fast track conversion Masters course.

Associate membership of the RTPI - The RTPI’s routes to membership have been streamlined recently to reflect the changes in the profession to ensure as many interested, eligible and talented people are attracted to join the Institute and develop their careers as Chartered Members. The Institute’s Associate membership is open to planning professionals who do not have an RTPI accredited degree.  With additional experience Associate members can take the Associate APC (A-APC) route to become a Chartered Planner.