Planners have a central role in ensuring that society plans to mitigate and to adapt to the impact of climate change. Ensuring that planners and those working in the built environment have the skills and knowledge they need is vital to this task even in the era of cutbacks.
The previous government set up a climate change skills fund to support development and the coalition government has supported this initiative and retained the programme. The fund aims to develop skills capacity in the planning community.
The fund will help all those engaged in the built environment including planners, elected members and community activists. A sum of £1 million has been given to each English region and responsibility for managing the projects has been given to the nine regional improvement and efficiency partnerships (RIEPs).
A number of national partners are working with the RIEPs to develop a spectrum of skills and training initiatives. As one of the largest national trainers of planners the RTPI is involved, as are the Planning Advisory Service, the Energy Savings Trust, the Carbon Trust, CABE, the Planning Officers Society and the UK Climate Impacts Programme.
Bringing together such a broad range of national partners means that expertise from a number of different fields can be accessed. Partners bring knowledge and cutting edge practice as well as highly developed skills training programmes and expertise in delivering new skills.
There will be a range of learning opportunities from training courses and seminars, climate change tool kits, bespoke skills audit packages and more. With the expansion of online learning, the fund is exploring ways of providing online modules. Already the RTPI is developing its own continuing professional development portal which will allow users to access a range of material on climate change.
By offering a diversity of learning opportunities the climate change skills fund aims to ensure that there is something for everyone. Encouraging the RIEPs and the national partners to work together will mean that the best expertise and latest knowledge on climate change will be made available to a wide audience.
It is vital that initiatives for skill development continue to give planners and society the skills and knowledge they need. The RTPI, the RIEPs and the fund's national partners are all committed to ensuring that we tackle the challenge of climate change skills capacity. Together they can make a difference.
- Charles Veal is RTPI member services manager.