According to the RTPI, the Level 7 Chartered Town Planner degree apprenticeship is a new route into the profession that combines academic education with practical experience to equip future employees with vital skills as well as a degree.
Currently, the vast majority of planners enter the profession after graduating from RTPI-accredited undergraduate or postgraduate planning degrees.
Under the new scheme, developed by the Chartered Town Planner Apprenticeship Trailblazer Employer Group with the RTPI, apprentices will be able to earn a wage from an employer while completing a planning qualification at an RTPI-accredited planning school and gaining RTPI chartered town planner status. Existing graduates or employees with no planning qualifications may be eligible.
The RTPI said that over 80 employers are interested in employing apprentices and at least six universities are working to offer the apprenticeship from this September.
Anne Milton, apprenticeships and skills minister, said: "I am thrilled that the first degree level apprenticeship for town planners is getting off the ground. This is a fantastic opportunity to encourage more people to pursue an exciting career and make a real difference in their local communities."
Victoria Hills, RTPI chief executive, said: "I am delighted that we can finally boost the training of planners that the country so desperately needs, and make this exciting profession accessible to many more people who might not have considered it before."
The initiative suffered a setback last year when the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA), the government agency for apprenticeships, rejected it, citing concerns in the assessment method – the end-point assessment plan (EPA). According to the RTPI, all parties have since "worked together on a solution" to the problem.
More details on the scheme can be found here.
Last month, chief planner Steve Quartermain told a conference that the government will commission research into the the shortage of planners in response to industry concerns.