As part of National Apprenticeship Week (4-8 March), The Planner spoke to Emma Blunt, who took part in the RTPI’s apprenticeship scheme. She completed it last year.
Emma was a technical administrator (cited as current in the piece) at Quattro Design Architects, but start her new role as a planning consultant at SF Planning on 1 March.
Q: Where did you see the apprenticeship role advertised and what made you apply for it?
A: My current employer asked me to have a look for a course that I felt would be beneficial for me and I came across the BTEC Town Planning & Technical Support NVQ. I applied for the apprenticeship because I felt it was relative to my position due to my involvement in planning applications.
Q: What does the job entail – what sort of work are you doing?
A: My current job involves a lot of technical administration, however I am also the main point of contact for the majority of my team’s planning applications and I deal with the submissions and liaison with local planning authorities. I also assist clients with overcoming planning issues on a range of projects.
Q: What kind of work do did studies involve?
A: I have finished the BTEC aspect of my college course. It consisted of a wide range of studies including planning policy, development control, building control and even climate change. We also covered other topics such as surveying and health and safety.
Q: What sort of supervision and support do you get?
A: I had a brilliant tutor who unfortunately left the college towards the end of the BTEC aspect of the course and he provided lots of support. I was required to attend college once every two weeks and I found these sessions extremely informative and enjoyable. My employer was supportive and would provide assistance when I requested it.
Q: Were you looking for a job / career in planning?
A: After around six months of being in my current role, I realised how much I enjoyed planning and this was when I began looking into furthering my studies to obtain more knowledge on the subject. So yes, I would say I was looking for a job in planning.
Q: Is it what you expected it to be?
A: I find planning very rewarding but I would say it is quite difficult to say what my expectations were. One of the reasons why I find planning such an enjoyable and interesting career is that there are constantly different issues that arise that are often unexpected and this always keeps me on my toes.
Q: What will your next steps be following your apprenticeship? When does it conclude?
A: The BTEC side of my course was completed in June 2018, however the NVQ is still ongoing. I hope to attend university and obtain chartered status at the RTPI.
Q: Do you have any advice for people looking for apprenticeships, or seeking a role in planning?
A: I would say that if you enjoy a challenge, planning is an ideal career choice. The BTEC Town Planning & Technical Support NVQ is a really good place to start, particularly because the course involves such a variety of topics, which provide knowledge on the construction industry as a whole.
Q: What work will you be undertaking in your new role?
A: My job title will be planning consultant, so a great deal of my work will involve assisting clients with planning statements, dealing with local planning authorities, attending meetings to overcome planning issues and other tasks as required by my new employer.
Information about RTPI apprenticeship schemes can be found on the institute's website.