Addressing the skills gap in planning

4th September 2017

Planning is the fundamental building block of economic growth but the recruitment and retention of planners has become an acute issue in recent years.  Over the past 18 months we have been investigating how we can help address the skills gap in planning across the region.

This has taken the form of:

  • developing a Memorandum of Co-operation on Training and Career Development in Planning which many authorities in the region have already signed up to 
  • supporting the development of Public Practice which will be launched in October
  • supporting a schools pack which can be used by any authority locally
  • assistance with working together on apprentice technicians
  • discussion with providers regarding the provision of apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships
  • supporting the degree apprenticeship trailblazer
  • developing a career development template
  •  introducing people to each other where they are working on common issues 

In June 2017, we undertook a regional survey to assess the latest situation.  This provided us with the base data against which the future success of the implementation of the Memorandum of Co-operation on Training and Career Development in Planning can be measured. 

We had a response rate of 68% (taking into account known shared services).  Results have been circulated to all authorities. 

Whilst some authorities appear to be largely unaffected by the skills gap the regional picture still raises concerns.  At the time of the survey there were 113 vacancies for which a degree level qualification or above was required.  With a backdrop of 40% of Senior Planner vacancies covered by Agency Staff, an anticipated increase in workload in growth areas, the majority of planners citing career progression as a reason for leaving and the cost of recruitment, it seems we must be able to use our resources in a better way.

We would therefore encourage all local authorities to sign up to the Memorandum of Co-operation as a foundation for future collaboration.  This might include working together on advertising, providing career progression across authorities, perhaps even secondments to and from the private sector?

One thing is clear, local authorities will need to work together if this challenge is to be met.  Sign up and become part of the solution.

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