Planner, Development Management Team, Aberdeen City Council
I entered the planning profession relatively late in my working life. In 2007 I was considering a career change after working within the administration section of Aberdeen City Council's Planning Department for several years, including as Secretary to the current Head of Planning and Sustainable Development, Dr Margaret Bochel.
During this time I gained a real interest in planning and developed what I felt were transferable skills, which led me to consider applying for the post of Planning Technician within Development Management. I was appointed to the post in April 2008, and at this stage was also given the opportunity to study on a part-time basis for an MSc in Rural Planning & Environmental Management at Aberdeen University.
As a Planning Technician my main responsibility was as case officer for a range of planning applications, which gave me the opportunity to gain a far broader knowledge and understanding of planning. I graduated with a Masters degree in November 2010, and this allowed me to progress as a Licentiate Member of the RTPI through the L-APC route to gaining full Chartered Membership in June 2012. My success in the L-APC process has resulted in my recent promotion to the post of Planner within the Development Management Team, where I am looking to build on the planning experience I have gained to date.
My tips for future candidates are:
- Be really disciplined about keeping your log book up-to-date. It is so easy to fall behind with the entries, and then lose track of some of the detail of the work you've been involved in. If the log book is not updated on a regular basis it can become quite a time-consuming and slightly demoralising task just trying to catch up.
- I found it useful when writing up my submission that I'd included particularly detailed notes in my log book on specific areas of work that I'd been involved in which I'd felt at the time were potential case studies for my Professional Competence Statement, and this ultimately helped me to decide on the two case studies which I used.
- As I worked through my submission I re-read the guidelines on numerous occasions, often highlighting the specific areas which I needed to focus on.
- I tried to be really methodical in ensuring that I had demonstrated in sufficient detail my competency in terms of all the assessment criteria, and found that I was able to demonstrate this best by summarising each case study in a final paragraph.
- Don't hesitate in delaying the submission of your L-APC if you're not confident that it can demonstrate a sufficient level and/or breadth of planning experience. I initially intended submitting my L-APC in January 2012, but in December decided to delay my submission until April 2012. The extra 3 months allowed me to gain additional professional experience at a level which I feel was necessary to satisfy the assessment criteria.
- Attend the L-APC workshops held in your area as these are really useful in terms of the guidance provided. Although I was fortunate in that I was working towards my L-APC at the same time as several of my colleagues, I think that for some Licentiates the workshops can provide the ideal opportunity to discuss the L-APC process with others who may have similar questions or are perhaps facing similar concerns.
Please note: To stay fit for purpose, L-APC requirements do change over time. For the most up to date advice please always refer to the L-APC Guidance on the Licenitate APC webpage. Candidate details provided here are current at time of L-APC submission in 2012.