Young planners are loosely defined as members of the profession under the age of 35. They make up roughly 30 per cent of the membership of the RTPI and with this considerable representation, they can make a significant contribution to both the planning profession overall and to the RTPI and how it functions.
The Young Planners' Network was set up to provide a voice for young planners through the RTPI. Its activities are co-ordinated by Trish Cookson. In addition to the 1,300 members of the network, representation is provided at national level by the Young Planners Advisory Group, which is made up of a representative from each of the regions and nations and a representative on the RTPI's executive board.
Behind these representatives is usually a regional steering group that co-ordinates activities such as continuing professional development and other training events, support mechanisms for graduates and those taking their assessment of professional competence (APC), networking opportunities and social events.
The work of the advisory panel and the network has been fundamental, particularly in recent years, in demonstrating the ability, credibility and importance of young planners in terms of their contribution to both the planning and wider development professions, which can often be overlooked. The network seeks to celebrate these achievements and encourage and support young planners in their professional development.
The Young Planner of the Year Award goes beyond representing the achievements of a single individual. It has helped highlight and celebrate the achievements of young planners throughout the UK. In addition, the Young Planners' Conference is the only national event specifically organised for young planners by young planners.
At a national level, the advisory group has set a number of objectives to support younger members of the profession. These will be outlined in a delivery action plan which will be published shortly.
Many of the objectives will have long been delivered by volunteers at regional and local level and through the steering groups. The purpose of the action plan is to share best practice across the regions to provide a much improved level of support and services to young planners.
My aim as young planner's representative on the executive board is to gain recognition for the contribution that young planners can make to the profession and provide more opportunities and forums for participation, debate and discussion.
The Young Planners' Network provides an excellent forum to make an impact or further your professional development as well as an opportunity to meet new people and plenty of reasons to get together over a few drinks. There are plenty of opportunities to become involved or to provide your views on what you would like to gain from both the RTPI and the network.
Sara Parkinson is a senior planner at CB Richard Ellis and young planners' representative on the RTPI executive board. For more information or to give your views, please email email@example.com, who will forward emails accordingly.
To join the network, please register on www. rtpi.org.uk clicking the "my profile" button in the top right hand corner. Complete the profile as fully as possible as this will help you get the most from the network.
Remember to include your RTPI membership number.