Proposals in a new report to develop an apprenticeship scheme for urban planners have been welcomed by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) in Scotland.
The Skills in Planning Research Paper, commissioned by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) for Partners in Planning (PiP), of which RTPI is a member, sets out 25 recommendations to raise the profile of planning and attract more students and young people into the profession.
It comes as the planning workforce in Scotland faces significant demographic challenges with an ageing workforce coupled with a lack of younger workers and graduates entering the sector.
Craig McLaren, director of RTPI Scotland said: “I am very pleased that the report recognises the key role that the planning profession will play in supporting the post-Covid green recovery and in reaching the net zero carbon targets. This needs new ways of making planning a career option for more people so I am delighted that it highlights the case for establishing planning apprenticeship programmes as a means of supporting this. We will work with others to see how best to take this forward.”
The report highlights that there has been an estimated decline of five per cent in Scotland’s planning workforce since 2014, with the sector forecasted to grow 11 per cent by 2030.
There will be a replacement demand of approximately 500 planners over the next 15 years as older planners retire, which will also result in a knowledge gap as experience is lost.
The Covid-19 pandemic is also likely to exacerbate challenges already facing the sector and the impact of inaction could be felt at both the micro and macro level.
The report identifies three key areas for action: promoting and raising awareness of planning, developing a ‘route map’ to ensure a sustainable supply of new entrants into the sector and developing skills within the workforce.
RTPI Scotland believes that developing new opportunities and opening up different entry routes, especially through an apprenticeship scheme, will help support the sector meet the replacement and expansion demand for new talent and address the identified skills shortages.