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6.0 Built environment professions in the EU

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6.1 Summary and key findings
6.2 The number of planners in the EU
6.3 Gender of built environment professionals in the EU

6.1 Summary and key findings

In this chapter we use European Labour Force Survey data to compare built environment professionals across the EU. We estimate that:

  • There are around 87,000 planners in the EU of which two-thirds are in just three countries (the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands).
  • The distributions of professionals between planning, architecture and surveying varies greatly across the EU. Overall, about two-thirds are architects, with a fifth surveyors and a tenth planners. This means the UK has relatively more planners and surveyors and relatively less architects.
  • A higher proportion of UK planners are women compared to the EU average, but the opposite is true for architects and surveyors.

6.2 The number of planners in the EU

Countries across the EU conduct versions of the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and this data is collected centrally by EUROSTAT. This means we are able to compare the size and structure of the built environment professions across Europe. Using this data we estimate that there are around 87,000 planners in the EU, of which over two-thirds are in just three countries (the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands).

Although the data has limitations, by comparing the relative number of planners, architects, and surveyors we can clearly see that the built environment professions are structured very differently in different countries (see Figure 6). The EU average is for about two-thirds of professionals to be architects, with a fifth surveyors and a tenth planners. The proportion of planners goes as low as 5% in France, and as high as 45% in the Netherlands (it is 16% in the UK). For architects it is a low of 40% (in the UK) and a high of 80% (in Germany). Finally, the proportion of surveyors ranges from 8% in Germany to 44% in the UK. The UK is unique in surveying being the largest of the three professions, with more than double the EU average proportion.

In the Netherlands there is roughly one planner for every 1000 people, compared to one planner per 3000 in the UK. Sweden and Germany have similar proportions of planners per person, while France has a far smaller proportion. Finally, Germany is notable in having almost three times the number of architects as the UK.

Figure 6: Built environment professions across the EU

Figure 6

Source: EUROSTAT European Labour Force Survey filtered for ISCO 4 digit occupational codes for selected built environment occupations. Values are five year averages.

The data does not explain these variations, however there are several possible explanations. It may be that the boundaries of each profession may vary between countries, for example architects in one country adopting roles that planners play in another. The population density, land market, and policy environment of each country may play a role. And some countries may simply value investment in the built environment more than others.

6.3 Gender of built environment professionals in the EU

Taking the EU average, architecture and planning have roughly the same proportion of women (37%), both much higher than surveying (21%). In the UK, there is a higher proportion of female planners (42%) than the EU average (37%), while both architecture (24%) and surveying (15%) have a lower proportion of women than the EU averages (38% and 21%).[17]

There is great variation between individual countries. The APS estimates that two-thirds of planners in France are women, compared to a quarter in the Netherlands. Sweden is interesting in that half of those working in each of planning, surveying, and architecture are women.


[17] Full data on the gender of planners in the EU can be found in Appendix Table 20.

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