Alterations to the assessment of professional competence

Following a review of the APC process, a number of changes are to be introduced, says Judy Waugh.

The assessment of professional competence (APC) is the main route for graduates who hold a Royal Town Planning Institute-accredited degree to become chartered town planners. Around 3,000 licentiates have passed the APC since it was launched in 2006.

A comprehensive review of the APC has recently been undertaken and various changes will be implemented in 2012. Two relevant new guides, Preparing Your APC Application and Becoming a Chartered Town Planner - A Guide for Licentiates, are now available on the RTPI website.

However, the fundamentals of the APC have not changed. It remains a structured, supported programme designed to allow graduates to take ownership of their career development and continually reflect on their own practice in order to develop professional competence.

Candidates must still produce a 5,000-word submission consisting of a statement of their professional experience, a review of their professional competence developed over the required two years of experience and a professional development plan (PDP) for the forthcoming two years.

The new guidelines clarify the assessment criteria and provide more examples of the types of experience candidates need to develop. They highlight the importance of preparing a PDP and lead candidates through this process.

From 2012, candidates will be assessed as being either successful or unsuccessful. This will standardise the outcomes across all applications and simplify the process for candidates. Unsuccessful applicants will only have to resubmit the parts of the application that do not meet the criteria. There will also be changes to the feedback report that assessors give unsuccessful candidates to assist in resubmissions.

A number of changes have also been made to how candidates obtain corroboration. While the institute maintains that it is a useful discipline to have the submission corroborated, it recognises that more flexibility is needed in how this is recorded to better reflect the modern job market.

One important alteration will be the introduction of electronic submissions. This, in conjunction with a range of administrative changes to the assessment process, will cut the time taken to process an APC to eight weeks, with a published date for results.

Student members who have completed an APC-accredited degree will now be able to take up licentiate membership as soon as they graduate rather than having to wait until they have employment. But they must still have at least two years' experience before they can apply for their APC.

Later this year and early next, there will be a number of regional presentations to take licentiates through the do's and don'ts of the APC. The presentations will also be useful for employers and mentors.

Judy Waugh is head of membership and careers at the RTPI. For more details about the APC process or to view the guides, go to

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