A recent enquiry I received at Planners in the Workplace (PIWP) reads: "Our authority is having problems attracting experienced planners. We have tackled pay, conditions, benefits, career grade progression and format of job adverts.
"The region has problems such as house prices that are shared with other areas and may also suffer unfavourably in comparison to places such as London and Birmingham. Can you provide any guidance on how to deal with our problem?"
Recruitment and retention issues are of concern to many authorities. Although there is no simple answer, you could consider these ideas:
- Look at guidance. The RTPI offers free information to help members resolve difficulties at work.
- Seek support from your employer's personnel section.
- The recruitment pages of Planning can give you a feel for how other authorities advertise jobs.
- If your authority has been through the job evaluation process, it may be worth mentioning in the advert that a post-evaluation salary is being offered.
- To compete with other English regions, think about the benefits that working in your authority can offer. You may not be able to compete with large cities in terms of excitement, but you may well beat them in terms of environment and quality of life. Does your area have good schools, open spaces or reasonable commuting potential? These are selling points.
- Look into the possibility of key worker status. Local authority planners in some English regions may be eligible for help to buy a home or rent a house at an affordable price. Local Homebuy agents can provide further advice For more details, see the DCLG website www.communities.gov.uk.
- Your regional development agency could provide marketing information to help attract investment and job opportunities.
- Consider whether your job titles are interesting enough. Some recruitment agencies cite job titles as a major influence on candidates' decision to apply. Birmingham City Council has for instance decided to update the title of "development control" to "assistant director - planning management".
- The Planning Advisory Service also offers useful advice on its website www.pas.gov.uk.
Chris Sheridan is RTPI PIWP manager, (email) firstname.lastname@example.org. For more details, visit www.rtpi.org.uk/member_services/piwp.