Eighteen per cent of the 900 respondents to the survey suggest that they are considering a move outside planning this year. The proportion has risen sharply since 1999, when 13 per cent wanted to drop out in the near future.
Half of those thinking about leaving the profession this year cited inadequate remuneration as a factor. While 30 per cent of respondents saw pay rises of at least three per cent at their last salary review, one in five got no rise at all and 16 per cent expect none this year.
"The sector already suffers from a shortage of professionals so the prospect of a significant defection is disturbing, especially given the time, resources and training to get people professionally qualified," said Massa Sydique, a consultant at survey sponsors Cobalt Recruitment. "This is a serious issue and action must be taken."
Widespread departures would be a disaster for the sector, warned Planning Officers Society spokesman John Silvester. "Already there are too few people becoming planners. This underscores the belief that there is limited capacity for taking on board the additional requirements of the new planning system."
Nearly a quarter of respondents say they work more than five hours overtime in an average week, rising to 29 per cent in London. While 83 per cent say they work some overtime, only 12 per cent get paid for it.
RTPI president Jim Claydon voiced concern on lower salaries for women planners. "Efforts are needed to retain staff who take career breaks for family reasons. This is talent that planning cannot afford to lose," he said.
See survey, pages 17-26.