Volunteering to foster interest in planning in schools can be both professionally and personally rewarding. Martha Harris looks at education programmes that planners can deliver.
We continue to see new talent enter the profession each year, but we’re all familiar with the relative paucity of knowledge about planning careers in schools. How do we inform young people about planning and get them excited about careers in the profession?
The RTPI Future Planners programme is one such initiative that aims to foster interest in planning among 11-18 year olds and supports students studying planning at university, some of whom can apply for an RTPI Future Planners Bursary (see below). The programme involves volunteer RTPI Ambassadors visiting careers fairs and schools to engage pupils in discussions about what the planning profession involves, and how to become a town planner.
Ambassadors can also deliver other planning careers and education initiatives that are supported by the RTPI, including Urban Plan UK, from the Urban Land Institute, and Property Needs You, a joint scheme by the RTPI, Changing the Face of Property, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and the Reading Real Estate Foundation.
Since the Future Planners programme was launched in 2014, ambassadors have visited more than 200 schools and careers events across the UK and Ireland. They have given presentations, led lesson activities, and taken part in careers fairs.
Is their work having an impact? Tunde Adebutu tells his story.
Managing director at Neuber Limited
“I was lucky enough to have a planner I looked up to when I was training. I have always been grateful for the experience, and wanted to give back.
“I’m keen to help where possible and I have mostly been deployed to help at careers events, where we offer information on how town planning could be a great career option.
“Recently, I’ve been involved with Property Needs You – an initiative that helps to create pathways for students into property-oriented professions.
“Some students come well informed about the profession and want to explore their options further, others have enjoyed studying a related subject and are wondering what they can do with it – and there are some that have no idea what town planning is. Your job is to give them the information that is relevant to their situation. Essentially, it’s about selling your profession – people want to know more if they see you are genuinely passionate about what you’re saying.
“Many young people don’t naturally think of town planning as a career path, so it’s important to provide good information at an early stage to help them make better-informed career choices and attract a broader range of people to the profession.
“I’ve had great experiences volunteering, including seeing a student I’d mentored through the APC process become fully chartered. Professionally, it has developed my communication skills and taught me how to be patient – valuable career attributes and a good addition to my CPD.”
The Future Planners Bursary fund, launched in June 2015, allows graduates from any discipline to apply for a £1,000 award if they enrol on an accredited University Masters course in town planning.
RTPI partner educational initiatives
Property Needs You is a UK-wide joint initiative from the RTPI, Changing the Face of Property, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and the Reading Real Estate Foundation that works with parents, teachers and careers advisers to help young people understand opportunities available in the property sector.
Developed by the Urban Land Institute, Urban Plan UK is a “realistic, engaging, and academically demanding” classroom programme in which students learn about the forces that affect urban regeneration.
Becoming an RTPI Ambassador
Participation in the programme contributes towards annual CPD requirements and can help build links between education providers and employers. If you are an RTPI member and you can spare a few hours each year, get involved by signing up online at: www.rtpi.org.uk/ambassadors
The Ambassadors Toolkit
The RTPI has created an ‘Ambassadors Toolkit’ to provide a ‘self-service’ approach to participation to enable ambassadors to volunteer in the way that best suits them. It includes:
- Suggestions of volunteer activity;
- Ways to form links with schools;
- Downloadable resources; and
- Advice on ways to engage pupils.
The toolkit is available on the RTPI website.
Image credit / iStock
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