The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has conducted a comprehensive analysis of the planning profession in the United Kingdom. With a focus on understanding the needs of its members and facilitating an informed dialogue with the government and the general public, the report sheds light on the challenges and opportunities facing the planning profession in the 2020s.
As society grapples with climate change, housing shortages, and public health, effective planning is more crucial than ever. To support the formulation of robust planning policies, it is imperative to gain a deep understanding of the current state of the planning profession.
Building on the foundation of the 2019 State of the Profession report, this updated publication provides insights into the size, demographics, employment patterns, and pressing challenges confronting the UK's planning profession.
Key findings from the report include:
- The UK has a professional planning workforce of approximately 22,000 individuals in 2023, showcasing stability when compared to 2019 figures.
- Gender diversity continues to improve, with women comprising 40% of the planning workforce, and gender parity observed among professionals under the age of 42. Progress in racial diversity is evident and steadily on the rise.
- 75-80% of planners are RTPI members, underlining the institute's significance to the profession.
- Accredited planning programs across the UK are attracting over 4,000 students, preparing the next generation of planning professionals.
- Approximately 50% of planners are employed in private sector roles, especially within consultancies, while public sector employment has faced a decline.
- Real median salaries for planners have witnessed a steady decline over the past 15 years, emphasising the need for a closer look at compensation within the profession.
- Resourcing challenges, skills shortages, and political uncertainty pose formidable hurdles for public sector planning across the four nations.
Victoria Hills, Chief Executive of the Royal Town Planning Institute, said: "There are many encouraging statistics that we can find in this report, and it’s positive to see the profession taking encouraging steps in becoming more diverse.
“However, while the planning profession is maintaining steady overall numbers, it continues to face significant strains due to the under-resourcing of Local Planning Authorities. With proper resourcing, the planning profession can play a vital role in sustainably shaping built and rural environments to meet pressing housing, infrastructure and economic needs."
Read the report in full here.