Workplace survey highlights role of technical members

Understanding the qualification is raising standards across planning services, reports Chris Sheridan.

The RTPI conducted a survey of its technical members during March. This was part of a review of the qualification to find out more about individual roles and level of responsibility. The survey was timely because the institute had received an enquiry from a council looking to improve development opportunities for staff working alongside professional planners.

So who are the technical members? Job titles vary between organisations, but the majority work in the public sector. More than 63 per cent work in enforcement, with others in policy, development management and technical support.

What many have in common, the survey found, is managerial responsibility. Some 43 per cent of technical members supervise staff, while 57 per cent co-ordinate the workloads of others. Many carry out performance reviews and appraisals. Salaries vary, but 67 per cent earn more than £23,000 a year.

The survey results highlight a range of skills, knowledge and experience. One senior enforcement manager is responsible for a team of two officers and day-to-day running of the service. She advises planning officers, elected members, the public and third parties on planning issues and represents the council at appeals and court hearings.

Another member from a neighbouring authority provides graphic and cartographic support to planning officers. Technical membership recognises the professional commitment that these individuals bring to their daily work.

Other technical members are responsible for checking, validating and registering all planning applications. Some determine householder applications and make recommendations. Some perform section 106 monitoring and compliance duties, making an important contribution to raising professional standards throughout the planning service.

On the question of whether they are valued by their managers, more than 73 per cent of technical members agreed that their employers recognise their professional qualifications and support them with their professional development.

Many staff in a planning service can achieve technical membership and the RTPI will be carrying out a comprehensive review of pre-professional education provision. "The aim is to strengthen the pathway to RTPI technical membership," says education officer Katherine Parkes.

- Chris Sheridan is RTPI Planners in the Workplace manager. To view the survey results, please visit www.rtpi.org.uk/item/2776&ap=1


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