The introduction of town planning apprenticeships in Wales would help to diversify the profession and demonstrate that a career in planning is open for all to join, the Royal Town Planning Institute in Wales (RTPI Cymru) has said.
In an open letter to the Welsh Government, published to coincide with National Apprenticeship Week, RTPI Cymru Director Roisin Willmott FRTPI said that government-funded degree-level planning apprenticeships in Wales would lead to more people entering the profession from under-represented groups and rural and Welsh-speaking communities.
An RTPI survey last year found unanimous support from both the private and public sector for the introduction of planning apprenticeships in Wales, subject to funding. Respondents agreed that there was a real need to make the profession more diverse and more representative of the communities in which it works.
Roisin Willmott said: “RTPI Cymru works with employers to promote a diverse and inclusive planning profession and we believe that the single most influential way to do this is through the education system.
“The traditional route to becoming a chartered town planner is via university but we know that this route can be prohibitive to some in society. The RTPI would therefore welcome the opportunity to discuss with the Welsh government the development of a chartered town planner apprenticeship qualification in Wales.
“We need to broaden the talent coming into the profession in Wales. For us to be an effective and sustainable profession, we must be genuinely representative of the society in which we work.”
Ms Willmott also pointed out that planning services in Wales have reported difficulties in recruiting planners able to work in the Welsh language. The RTPI’s ambition is to have a profession which is representative of all communities, including those that are Welsh-speaking.
In 2019, RTPI Cymru responded to a Welsh Government consultation on extending government-funded apprenticeships to degree level.
The RTPI launched a degree level Chartered Town Planner Apprenticeship in England in 2019 – the apprenticeship includes an RTPI-accredited qualification and professional membership on completion. There are currently over 240 apprentices on the programme from a wide variety of backgrounds.