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‘Setback’ for planning apprenticeship degree

Words: Laura Edgar

The Chartered Town Planner Apprenticeship Trailblazer Group has received confirmation that its appeal to overturn the decision by the Institute for Apprenticeships (IFA) to not approve the Level 7 Chartered Town Planner Apprentice Standard has been rejected.

The independent reviewer of the appeal has ruled that the Chartered Town Planner Apprenticeship Trailblazer group, comprising 20 senior planning professionals, did not meet the grounds for appeal set by the IFA.

Philip Ridley, co-chair of the trailblazer group, said the IFA didn’t respond to the group’s request to allow representatives of the group to attend the appeal meeting.

This decision follows the news on Monday (9 July) that the degree-level apprenticeship would receive the highest band of government funding.

The setback to the launch of the Chartered Town Planning Apprenticeship means universities and employers are not able to offer this route into the profession this September.

Ridley said the decision “again demonstrates the reluctance of the IFA to understand and accommodate the role of chartered bodies in assessing professional competence, and the importance that employers place on quality assured professional qualifications that are devised by the sector’s experts”.

For Ridley, it would be helpful if the IFA shared its paperwork with the group so that it can understand the detail of the original rejection.  

“The IFA decision is an enormous setback to the efforts the planning profession is making to deliver the government’s housing agenda. Employers urgently need to take on chartered town planner apprentices. We are not alone in saying government reforms to ensure that employers drive apprenticeships to make them fit for purpose are clearly failing under the IFA.”

Victoria Hills, chief executive at the RTPI, said: “We are mystified and dismayed at this decision. It seems the appeal didn’t even get off the starting blocks. The RTPI strongly disagrees with the IFA’s judgement on the validity of the proposed assessment method, which is in line with our gold standard assessment of professional competence in all our chartered members.”

Hills said the decision “proves once again” that the IFA is not prepared to listen to the planning employers and universities on the trailblazers group, which is of great concern as the number of apprentices continues to decline.

“It is not just the profession that has received a setback, it is also the government’s own housing agenda as planners are key to delivering the homes the country needs.

“At this particular time, when the need for professional competencies and standards in the built environment professions has never been higher, we will continue to make the case for Apprenticeship routes to align closely with professional qualifications honed and delivered by Chartered bodies over many years.”

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