Report highlights identity concerns

The transport planning profession is being hindered by the lack of a dedicated professional institution, a study has found.

The Transport Planning Skills Initiative (TPSI) study, published this week, claims there is "real concern" over the lack of a strong identity for transport planning. It contends that the lack of a recognised professional body is a major problem.

"Transport planning suffers from being divided between at least five professional institutes, each of which has other, more dominant interests," the report notes. "Neither transport planners nor their employers see any one of these as being particularly appropriate." It points to strong demand from employers for a common transport planning route to chartered membership.

The shortage of transport planners in the UK is putting the delivery of national transport priorities at risk, the study warns. At least 900 entrants into the profession are needed in each of the next three years if demand is to be met. Up to 200 could come from transport masters courses, but the remaining 700 will have to be recent graduates and career changers, all of whom will need training, it maintains.

Some 84 per cent of employers have experienced difficulty recruiting staff with three to eight years' experience, the report discloses. Employers have tried to redress the shortage by recruiting from abroad, encouraging career switching and recruiting staff with less experience, it adds.

The TPSI notes that the majority of transport planners have a first degree, but these are in a broad range of disciplines. "Around half are geographers and civil engineers," it observes. "The rest come from economics, mathematics and environmental sciences to name but a few."

Transport Planning Skills Initiative - Researching the Profession is available from Andy Costain at the TPSI (tel) 020 7348 1975.

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