Government promises funding for new planning apprenticeship scheme, says RTPI

A new town planning apprenticeship scheme has received a promise of 'maximum' funding from a government body despite its assessment plan being rejected by the same organisation earlier this year, according to the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

Planning apprenticeship: funding promised but final scheme approval awaited
Planning apprenticeship: funding promised but final scheme approval awaited

In May 2017, the government approved the principle of a degree-level chartered town planning apprenticeship scheme developed by the Chartered Town Planner Apprenticeship Trailblazer Employer Group with support from the RTPI.

But in April this year, the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA), a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Education, decided not to approve the scheme's assessment plan, citing a "number of concerns".

The IfA is tasked with developing and maintaining criteria for the approval of apprenticeship standards and assessment plans.

The apprenticeship scheme was due to start this September but, as it stands, universities will not be able to recruit students to take part in it. 

The institute has lodged an appeal with the IfA to overturn the decision on the assessment plan with a ruling expected in the summer.

However, this week, the RTPI said it and the trailblazer group have received written confirmation from the IfA that the apprenticeship scheme will receive the highest band of government funding.

The scheme will receive "the maximum amount of government funding available to employers per apprentice for a particular apprenticeship standard, as a contribution towards the costs of external training and assessment", according to the IfA letter.

An RTPI spokeswoman added that the letter says the amount available is up to £27,000 per apprentice.

According to the institute, over 20 employers and six universities were hoping to recruit apprentices this September. 

Philip Ridley, co-chair of the trailblazer group, said: "The latest funding decision from the government illustrates that the chartered town planner apprenticeship should be accepted so that apprentices can start. Employers and universities are ready to go."

Victoria Hills, RTPI chief executive, said: "It is fantastic news that the government has indicated their commitment to funding this scheme at the highest band, which goes to show how valuable and urgent the training of planners through a more diversified route is to the country.

"We urge the IfA to accept our proposed assessment method, which is in line with the high standard we use to assess professional competence in all our chartered members for 50 years."

According to the RTPI, the IfA endorsed the scheme’s apprenticeship standard - setting out the knowledge, skills and behaviours required of successful apprentices to be eligible for chartered RTPI membership - in January this year, before deciding in April to reject the assessment method. 

A spokeswoman for the IfA, said: "The chartered town planner apprenticeship trailblazer group has submitted an appeal regarding the chartered town planning degree apprenticeship.

"We are currently considering this appeal and will respond to the trailblazer group in accordance with our appeals procedure."

The spokeswoman said the IfA would not comment on the funding issue.

The trailblazer group consists of Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils (co-chair); CBRE (co-chair); Brighton and Hove City Council; Edgars; ELG Planning; Indigo Planning; the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea; Savills; Sedgemoor District Council; Sport England; South Cambridgeshire District Council; St Albans City & District Council; Thurrock Council; and Winchester City Council.

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