What is the Return to Work – Planning programme?
Return to Work - Planning is one of four Return to Work programmes developed by the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Government Equalities Office (GEO)The programme is designed to help people with experience in Town Planning to return to work after a career break and join local government.
With funding provided by the GEO, the programme aims to support people who took a career break for 12 months or more to care for someone. The programme will also consider applications from planning professionals who have caring responsibilities and have become unemployed due to COVID-19, or those who have been in long-term unemployment with no caring commitments.
- practical learning from industry experts about good practice.
There has never been a better time to return to work. More employers are realising that individuals who have taken career breaks bring with them a variety of valuable skills and experiences that can enhance an organisation’s performance and approach to projects.
If you want to step back into a career in Town Planning after a break and work on projects that are at the centre of significant local and global issues, including housing and climate change, then Return to Work – Planning
Why work in local government Town Planning?
A career in local government provides you with an opportunity to make a difference to people’s lives and to the places and environments in which they live.
Increasingly, those working in local government do these things by working with residents, other public sector bodies like the health service, and the private sector to ensure that local people get the most effective and efficient services possible.
Anne-Marie, a planning consultant in a council, says “You don’t get closer to the rockface than working for councils! You work directly with those making and delivering plans, and with communities.”
Council planners directly shape their local areas, creating places for people to live, work, learn, shop, socialise and exercise. The work they do can have significant impact on people’s lives.
In 2013, Plymouth City Council led a ‘Plans for Home’ initiative to tackle increasing levels of homelessness and housing waiting lists. In the five years following the plan’s inception, they built an average of 1112 houses per year, 27.5 per cent of which were affordable.
Paul, their Service Director for Strategic Planning and Infrastructure, says that “without intervention, the likely proportion of affordable houses would have been around 17 per cent.” They were able to reduce housing waiting lists from around 12,000 to around 9,400 to support people in their local communities.
As well as supporting communities, councils are also great employers. They offer their staff:
- flexible working
- fair pay, pensions and holiday allocation
- a supportive working environment
- project diversity
- career progression
- maternity, paternity and adoption leave
- the opportunity to feed into the ambitions of the organisation
- job satisfaction.
Getting back to work after a period away can be daunting, but the support offered by the Return to Work – Planning programme and councils can help you find your feet.
Amanda, a Senior Planner for a council, took a career break to care for her child. She notes, “Returning to work in a local authority provided a supportive environment, allowing me to take time off around my childcare commitments.”
Apply for our programme today and join the other two million people who have chosen to work in local government.
What does the programme involve?
The Return to Work – Planning programme will provide candidates with training, support and coaching to return to work after a career break and join local government.
The programme is divided into two core sections; virtual training and connecting with employers.
- Virtual training
The training for the Return to Work – Planning programme will be provided by PAS. PAS is a highly respected provider of support in planning, with the principal mission of ensuring that local planning authorities (LPAs) are continuously improving in their execution and delivery of planning services.
They specialise in providing councils with high-quality help, advice, support and training. They also help local government officers and councillors stay effective and up to date on sector developments.
For the Return to Work – Planning programme, PAS will build upon their expert knowledge to support you both professionally and personally.
Training will take place between January and March 2021, with a flexible duration depending on your experience and learning needs. It will cover a variety of areas, including:
The training programme will be provided via virtual seminars and workshops, reading materials, e-learning, group exercises and assignments. This format is designed to give you both the flexibility to train at times that work around your life and the chance to interact with other returning professionals.
2. Connecting with employers
While you are completing your online training with PAS, the LGA will invite you to an online platform where you can describe your skills and experience.
Prospective employers in local government will then be invited to review your credentials and get in touch with you to discuss future employment opportunities. We cannot guarantee employment, but we are pleased to offer you a way to connect with councils who are eager to work with returning planning professionals.
What are the benefits of participating in the programme?
- Refresh your skills
If you have been out of the Town Planning profession for a while, you may not be aware of the latest developments in the sector. This programme can help you to refresh your skills and knowledge so you can hit the ground running on your first day back at work.
- Understand local government planning
If you are joining local government from the private sector, you will find this element of the training particularly beneficial.
Town Planning operates differently in local government, with the work requiring collaboration and engagement with a wide range of stakeholders. It also involves working within democratic processes, ensuring that decisions consider the social, economic and environmental impacts across an area.
Gaining insight into local government operations will support your transition from the private sector to the public sector.
If you have experience of working in council planning, this will help you get up to speed with how processes might have changed.
- Understand the various roles and specialisms in planning
Local government planning is a diverse profession, allowing individuals to specialise in different areas including land use, design, economic development and climate change.
In whatever role you enter, you will be at the forefront of shaping the places where you live and supporting the COVID-19 recovery.
- Connect with local government employers
You will get the opportunity to share your skills and experience with councils that have vacancies in their planning teams.
As our programme is nation-wide, signing up can help you gain exposure with councils across England. With the impact of COVID-19, some councils may be interested in discussing remote working opportunities.
- Build a network with other returners
Returning to work after a period away can be daunting. By providing you with online workshops, you will get the chance to interact and build networks with other professionals returning to work.
- Understand how to become a member of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI)
As you may be aware, the RTPI is the principal body representing planning professionals in the United Kingdom and Ireland. With over 25,000 members worldwide and more than 100 years of history, the RTPI is at the forefront of planning.
Many employers require applicants to have RTPI membership. This programme will provide you with an understanding of the pathway to gain that membership if you do not have it already.
Stage 1 – apply
Dates: 29 September 2020 – 11 November 2020
To apply for the programme, please visit our Return to Work – Planning website and select the ‘Apply Now’ button. You will then be taken to our job vacancies site, where you will be asked to register and complete an online application form.
Should you need any support with completing this form, please contact the LGA’s Return to Work team.
Applications will close on 11 November 2020, though we reserve the right to close applications before this date. Early applications are advised.
Stage 2 – complete video assessment
Dates: 18 November 2020 – 30 November 2020
In this stage, you will be asked to complete an online video interview, where you will answer a series of pre-recorded questions. As our programme is delivered nationally, you can complete this stage virtually and from the comfort of your home.
You will be notified about the outcome of your application from 14 December 2020.
Stage 3 – training
Dates: From January 2021
During this time, you will be invited to complete online training with PAS. Details of how to access the online training will be shared with you once you have been accepted onto the programme.
Stage 4 – connecting with employers
Dates: From January 2021
At this stage of the programme, you will be given the opportunity to connect with councils that have job vacancies. You will be asked to outline your skills and experience on our online platform, for local employers to review.
The online platform will remain open beyond the completion of your training, to support your conversations with councils.
We cannot guarantee employment, but we are pleased to offer a way for committed professionals to connect with councils who are eager to work with returners.
The Return to Work – Planning programme is a unique opportunity for those with experience in Town Planning to receive free training and the chance to connect with councils.
To be eligible for our programme, you must have taken an extended career break of 12 months or more to care for someone. The programme will also consider applications from planning professionals who have caring responsibilities and have become unemployed due to COVID-19, or those who have been in long-term unemployment with no caring commitments.
The GEO has set these eligibility requirements to help those who have taken career breaks to restart their careers at the right level for their skills and experience. With COVID-19 pandemic, this programme will give ‘returners’ tailored support to re-enter the workplace.
In addition to the essential criteria outlined above, all candidates must have a minimum of two years’ experience working in a role related to Town Planning or in one of the following, related disciplines:
- environmental management
- legal services
- geographical analytics/research
We also ask candidates to meet the following (desired) criteria:
- have knowledge and understanding of relevant planning law, or evidence of an aptitude to learn this quickly
- have knowledge and understanding of the policies and principles of town and country planning, or evidence of an aptitude to learn this quickly
- have experience of writing high quality and detailed reports that are informed by relevant evidence and information, and which make clear recommendations and/or decisions.
We hope the information in this pack has shown you that working in local government and re-entering the workplace through our programme is worthwhile and could further your career.
If you have been out of work for a significant period or have never worked in planning, we understand that you may want more information about the profession.
- The Royal Town Planning Institute has recently published their Corporate Strategy 2020 – 2030
- Public Practice work closely with councils, and you can find out more about their work on their website
- advice on care and flexible working
- free resources to your refresh skills
- information about returners networks to join.
Thank you for your interest in our programme and we look forward to welcoming your application. For the latest information, please visit the Return to Work – Planning website.
If you have any queries or would like additional support during the application process, please contact our Return to Work team.