Membership improves skills base amid economic gloom

Joining the RTPI gives you access to services that will sharpen your competitive edge, says Chris Sheridan.

The RTPI is dedicated to ensuring that your membership works for you. With more than 22,000 members specialising in different areas in a wide range of sectors, RTPI membership provides a public recognition of your professional status.

It is important that the RTPI offers value for money and also that we make members aware of this. Some services that we offer have been compared to insurance policies - they are there when you need them. This has been the case with support offered to members affected by the recession, which includes access to free employment law advice, the latest jobs in planning and guidance on updating CVs and job interviews. Information is available on the RTPI website and to date this has been viewed more than 6,000 times.

Promoting the benefits of membership is key. The website, RTPI news, ebulletins and presentations at events help us in this task. My presentations at a recession workshop hosted by the RICS in Wales and the Planning Summer School were useful and feedback was positive. One summer school delegate, a chartered architect and planner felt that the RTPI offered better value for money when compared to RIBA membership. I would be interested to know whether this view is shared by other architect-planners.

More recently, we asked employers to provide us with their thoughts on internships and voluntary work placements. At a time when graduates are in need of work experience, there may be a role for the RTPI to encourage more employers to offer such experience to graduates and unemployed planners looking to develop their skills. Any information received will enable us to help employers to support the next generation of professionals.

During recent years, the shortage of planners has resulted in many employers casting their nets more widely. Some employers have looked beyond RTPI membership to fill vacancies and some members have looked keenly at what joining the RTPI offered them.

Recession has led to a contracted job market, which means greater competition for job-seekers. Although there is still an underlying skills shortage, it is vital that planners have a competitive edge when applying for their next position. RTPI membership can give that edge and the services it offers have never been more important.

Chris Sheridan is RTPI Planners in the Workplace manager. For more information, please visit or email

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