Rebekah Mehmi, a chartered town planner apprentice at Wycombe District Council, on the benefits of an apprenticeship through the Royal Town Planning Institute
From an early age, I was interested as to how we can live sustainably. I chose planning as a career as I wanted to be part of the decision making processes that shape our towns and cities. Many of our historic local communities need regeneration and I want to be part of that driving force that brings about change.
The benefits of RTPI apprenticeships
I chose the apprenticeship route from the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) as you are able to reinforce the knowledge and skills that you learn at university in a live working environment. With apprenticeships you are able to get the best of both worlds by means of gaining invaluable experience and learning the theory behind why we do planning at the same time. My employer, Wycombe District Council, is able to cover the fees for my course from the apprenticeship levy and I see the council will be gaining their reinvestment by training and upskilling me for the longer term. Moreover, apprenticeships appealed to me as you are able to earn while you learn, which means you can gain a qualification while on a salary and not having the worry of university fees on your shoulders.
What am I learning
As part of my course at London South Bank University, one of my modules—Making Sustainable Places—included a field trip to Cornwall. In Cornwall, we examined the issues surrounding sustainable clay mining, proposed housing developments and conserving the natural landscape. This field trip allowed me to explore planning constraints in a very unique landscape and this got me thinking about the need to provide development to reinvigorate deprived areas while also taking into account the needs of the neighbouring communities.
Employer mentoring and support is key
At Wycombe District Council, the development management teams have been very supportive in my personal development by means of arranging for me to shadow different officers and gain experience out in the field. So far I have shadowed planning officers at site visits and client meetings, which have provided me with an insight as to how local people and housing developers interact with the planning system. I believe that working within the planning support teams has provided me with the context to how processes operate within the planning department of a local authority from the initial to the final stages of the planning process. My line managers have also organised training to help me further develop my skills and acquire the experience that is needed by the RTPI.
A stepping stone to my future career
I would recommend this degree apprenticeship to anyone who is ready to take on a challenge but also is ready to learn and take on the vast opportunities that becoming a town planner brings.
RTPI is the largest professional body for town planners in the UK and Europe. The Institute has been shaping planning policy and raising professional standards for over 100 years and is the only body in the UK to confer chartered status to planners, the highest professional qualification. To find out more about the apprenticeship: www.rtpi.org.uk/degreeapprenticeship
For information on a career in town planning: www.rtpi.org.uk/media/3099809/about_planning_guide_latest.pdf