The first degree-level apprenticeship to train Chartered Town Planners has been approved by the Government, with employers in England able to recruit candidates immediately to start the programme this autumn, the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has announced today (5 March). 

The Level 7 Chartered Town Planner degree apprenticeship is a new route into the profession that combines academic education with practical experience to equip future employees with vital skills as well as a degree.

Under this scheme, developed by the Chartered Town Planner Apprenticeship Trailblazer Employer Group with the RTPI, apprentices will be able to earn a wage from an employer while completing a planning qualification at an RTPI-accredited Planning School and gaining RTPI Chartered Town Planner status. Existing graduates or employees with no planning qualifications may be eligible.

There is strong interest for the scheme, with over 80 employers interested in employing apprentices and at least six universities working to offer the apprenticeship from this September.

Anne Milton, Apprenticeships and Skills Minister, said: 

“I am thrilled that the first degree level apprenticeship for town planners is getting off the ground. This is a fantastic opportunity to encourage more people to pursue an exciting career and make a real difference in their local communities.  

“We have transformed the apprenticeship system in this country and it’s great to see leading employers and universities working together to make sure people receive high quality training to help support the country’s housing needs.

“I look forward to hearing more about their work and wish people starting their career in town planning the best of luck.”

Victoria Hills, RTPI Chief Executive, said:

“I am delighted that we can finally boost the training of planners that the country so desperately needs, and make this exciting profession accessible to many more people who might not have considered it before.

“The fact that we have successfully embedded our tried and tested route of assessment for Chartered membership in the degree apprenticeship testifies to the RTPI’s role and expertise in assessing professional competence, and is especially timely as we prepare to celebrate 60 years of our Royal Charter.”

Philip Ridley, Head of Planning at Suffolk Coastal and Waveney DC’s and Co-Chair of the Trailblazer Group, said:

“Recruiting qualified planners in the public sector is a real challenge when our workload is increasing, and our local plans and planning decisions are rightly under more scrutiny. The Degree Apprenticeship provides another way for young people to enter the profession and work in councils to make a real difference for their community through delivering much needed homes, jobs and infrastructure.”

Hannah Blunstone, CBRE’s Planning Team Director and Co-Chair of the Trailblazer Group, said:

“The Degree Apprenticeship is a welcome addition to increasing the routes into the profession and securing a future wide diverse talent pool across both the public and private sectors.  We look forward to working with the RTPI and accredited universities to promote the opportunity which will supplement CBRE’s existing surveying apprenticeship programme.”

Apprentices will attain the status of Chartered Town Planner when they pass the End Point Assessment which is fully in line with the RTPI’s established Assessment of Professional Competence process for assessing non–apprentice candidates from other routes. This is complemented by a professional discussion based on the candidate’s vocational experience.

Currently, the vast majority of planners enter the profession after graduating from RTPI-accredited undergraduate or postgraduate planning degrees.

The time needed to complete the scheme can vary, but typically it is completed within three to six years. Levy-paying employers in England can use the levy to fund this apprenticeship.

The RTPI is the UK's leading body for spatial planning and is the largest planning institute in Europe with over 25,000 members worldwide.

The Town Planner Degree Apprenticeship suffered a setback last year when the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA), the government agency for apprenticeships, rejected it citing concerns in the assessment method – the end-point assessment plan (EPA).

All parties have since worked together on a solution. The EPA is now fully in line with the RTPI’s established Assessment of Professional Competence process as a written assignment, to be preceded by a professional discussion with the candidate on his/her vocational experience. The latter addresses the IfA’s concern about the lack of an interview in the process.

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