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Career development: Starting out as an apprentice


In celebration of it being National Apprenticeship Week (6-10 March), The Planner spoke to two apprentices taking advantage of the RTPI’s apprenticeship scheme. We found out how they got their role and what kind of work they get up to as they study to become planners.

Emma Chapman, apprentice planner, spatial planning and economy, Hertfordshire County Council

1. Where did you see the apprenticeship role advertised and what made you apply for it?

"I came across Hertfordshire County Council’s apprenticeship scheme on their website. At the time I applied to the scheme, the planning apprenticeship was not available. A few months later, I interviewed for the business admin apprenticeship scheme, was successful, however shortly after I was sent an email asking if I’d be interested in interviewing for a planning apprenticeship. The planning apprenticeship immediately caught my attention; it offered me a really exciting opportunity as well as a challenge. I didn’t hesitate to apply."

2. What sort of work are you doing?

"My job primarily involves me contributing towards and supporting the work of my team. Over the past few weeks I have been on site visits and attended meetings as well as checking the weekly planning application lists from one of the districts in the country.

"I look for applications that may raise issues and concerns regarding mineral and waste matters. If I find any I will then respond with the comments that the county council, as the minerals and waste planning authority, would like to make."

3. What kind of work do your studies involve?

"I am studying towards a level 3 town planning technician qualification over the duration of my apprenticeship, which is two years.

"My qualification is part BTEC and part NVQ. The BTEC side covers all my coursework / assignments and the NVQ is work based, which involves my assessor coming out to my place of work to see if I am meeting all the requirements from the NVQ."

4. Is it what you expected it to be?

"I am really enjoying my apprenticeship as every day I learn something new. I have a really encouraging and supportive team who are always there to help. It’s so much more than I expected - there is so much to learn and I have such a long way to go, but that’s what excites me. One of the best things about my role so far is being able to get out on site visits. It enables me to see first-hand what it is that I’m learning about. I’ve been on site visits to sand and gravel quarries, a chalk quarry and a landfill site."


Caitlin Deller, planning apprentice, city development and regeneration, Brighton and Hove City Council

1. Where did you see the apprenticeship role advertised and what made you want apply for it?

"I found this job on the Brighton and Hove City Council jobs website. I had heard of planning before so once I saw it I researched it a little more. Once I read up about it I knew that it would be something I would enjoy, so I applied for the job."

2. What sort of work are you doing?

"At the beginning of my job, I worked in the planning admin team for around six to seven months to get an idea of the different stages that planning applications go through.

"I have recently moved into the applications team and am doing the work of an ‘assistant planning officer’. I have my own load of planning applications and have been on site regularly in order to make my recommendations for my applications. I have mainly been dealing with householder applications and listed building consents."

3. What sort of supervision and support do you get?

"I have been supported by a lot of planning officers and they all offered to come with me on my first few site visits, help me with writing my reports, etc. After a few site visits, I am now confident enough to go out on my own and am gaining a lot of knowledge on writing reports.  I have weekly case reviews with my manager and he helps me with my applications by offering advice on the application, helping make my recommendation, what to look out for when I go on site, etc. I have a mentor at work who I can also go to for advice on both planning and general things, so if I need help I can go to either my manager or my mentor."

4. What are your next steps?

"In a couple of months I will be moving to the enforcement. After three months of working in that area, I have the option to choose which one I want to do for the rest of my apprenticeship, planning (development control) or enforcement. Once my apprenticeship is completed, there is a possible chance of an assistant planning/enforcement officer job vacancy, which I would like to get into. I am hoping to pursue a career in planning, and am very grateful for the opportunity that has been given to me."

* These are abridged interviews with both Emma and Caitlin. The full interviews are available on The Planner Jobs website:

Starting out as an apprentice: Emma Chapman

Starting out as an apprentice: Caitlin Deller

Information about RTPI apprenticeship schemes can be found on the institute's website.

The RTPI is also working with employers to develop a Chartered Town Planner degree apprenticeship. If you are interested in being part of the Trailblazer group or employing apprentices on the new standard once it is in delivery, please contact: careers@rtpi.org.uk

Image credit | iStock



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