As part of National Apprenticeship Week (4-8 March), The Planner spoke to Charlotte Fry, who completed her planning apprenticeship in September last year. She works at South Somerset District Council.
Q: Where did you see the apprenticeship role advertised and what made you apply for it?
A: We were asked at work through our manager if we would be interested in doing an apprenticeship for planning: we were all asked to put forward a statement as to why we wanted to take part. I thought that this apprenticeship would help me get a wider understanding of the whole planning process.
Q: What does the job entail – what sort of work are you doing?
A: I work in strategy and commissioning as a case officer and my work is within the spatial policy team. I do a lot of monitoring of housing and employment land. I have involvement with the local plan including mapping, web design and attending consultations
Q: What kind of work did your studies involve?
A: My studies included assignments on different areas of planning, including building control, planning policy, sustainable construction, and health and safety. It involved a lot of research interpreting information and putting it in my own words. My assessments could range from 10 pages to 35, which was my biggest - there were four/ five parts to each assignment and no word limit.
Q. What sort of supervision and support do you get?
A: I had help from my team, from asking questions and getting further clarification on what I had been asked. They all helped me by reading through some of my assignments.
Q: Were you looking for a job / career in planning?
A: I stated my career in planning support, which involved helping planning officers with system problems and training on new processes. I was then asked to help the planning policy team in producing the maps for the local plan and then helping with some other work. I applied for a job within the team to further my knowledge and career.
Q: Is it what you expected it to be?
A: I enjoyed doing my apprenticeship and researching different information and presenting it in various different forms.
Q; Do you have any advice for people looking for apprenticeships, or seeking a role in planning?
A: I think doing a qualification whilst working is a really good way of furthering your career. It helps you with on-the-job information and means you have further knowledge of work.
Information about RTPI apprenticeship schemes can be found on the institute's website.