Careers: Planning takes on the world

Are you looking for a professional career where future generations depend on what you do?

Do you want a challenging but rewarding job that combines vision and imagination with almost endless variety?

Every day, planners are taking decisions that have consequences for the shape of the UK and the world for up to a century ahead. They have a crucial role in meeting the nation's needs for homes, workplaces, leisure, transport, energy, water and a host of other essentials.

Planners are going to be in high demand over the next few years. According to the Academy for Sustainable Communities, there will be twice as many posts available as people qualified to fill them by 2011. So students can expect to find a wide range of career opportunities awaiting them when they graduate.

Why is this? First, a large number of senior planners are due to retire in the next five years. Second, too few planners have been trained over the past 20 years to fill their places. Third, the government's drive to build three million homes and preparations for the 2012 Olympics will push demand for staff through the roof.

Planning is rediscovering its purpose as a positive, strategic force in regenerating neighbourhoods and enhancing the environment. It is keeping the country moving and tackling congestion. It has a key role to play in ensuring that tomorrow's buildings meet high design and environmental standards.

But planning is not just about tackling short or medium-term demands. The biggest problem facing the planet - climate change - falls more and more within its everyday remit. This will be the profession's ultimate challenge.

- Huw Morris is editor of Planning.

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