New government-backed return-to-work scheme for planners launched

The Local Government Association (LGA) and Government Equalities Office have launched a new programme to encourage people to return to local government planning after a career break.

The Local Government Association's London offices (CC BY-SA 3.0 license)
The Local Government Association's London offices (CC BY-SA 3.0 license)

The ‘Return to Work - Planning’ programme is designed to offer tailored support for people with previous town planning experience who have taken a career break. 

Eligible individuals should have a minimum of two years’ experience working in a role related to town planning and have been economically inactive for a minimum period of 12 months – or less than a year if they have caring responsibilities.

Those who have become unemployed due to Covid-19 will also be considered. 

The programme, which has the support of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), will offer free training for up to 90 individuals around the future of the planning system and profession and the government’s proposed changes.

It also promises to provide practical support from industry experts, an introduction to working in local government and the chance to connect with councils that have planning vacancies. 

“The outcomes of the programme are not, however, solely focussed on the individual returning to work, albeit this is the principal driving force,” said Rachael Ferry-Jones, principal consultant at the LGA's Planning Advisory Service. 

“Recruitment into planning roles has been cited as a major challenge for local planning authorities across England. It is also an issue that has been raised as a concern by ministers in the government.

"The programme is therefore also to provide an opportunity to support local authorities by providing returners with the relevant skills and training that will enable them to access public sector placements and vacancies.”

The programme is one of four ‘Return to Work’ programmes developed by the LGA and the Government Equalities Office to support councils with recruitment – for social work, ICT, legal work and planning.

Ferry-Jones said there had been a lot of interest in the planning programme with around 220 applications received, although not all had been checked for eligibility yet. Applications are set to close at midday on 11 November.

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