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Pathways to Planning scheme

Pathways to Planning is a graduate scheme for the next generation of planners, fast-tracking the careers of talented individuals into an exciting, rewarding career. We recruit graduates from all backgrounds, universities, and degree disciplines; our aim is to reflect the diverse communities that councils serve.

What is planning?

Behind every community lies built and natural environments which shape the way we live our lives. Who determines how our homes are built, our cities structured, our green spaces maintained, and our local areas linked together? Whether it’s our commute to work or our ability to cope with climate change, this is the mandate of a planner.

Planners shape communities and protect the environment, providing a sense of place for people today and in the future.

More about the Pathways to Planning scheme:

Salary/Benefits: Minimum three-year work contract with a council, £24-30,000 salary, generous package of annual leave, and flexible working is available at many councils.

Eligibility: To apply, candidates will need to have a 2.1 undergraduate degree in any subject by summer 2024 and will be required to provide evidence of their entitlement to work in the UK. Pathways to Planning is unable to sponsor visas. If any applicants have the right to work in the UK but would be considered an international student for the purposes of postgraduate study, they may be liable for the additional cost of course fees (i.e., any cost above UK domestic student fees).

Structure of the programme: Once passing our assessment process, successful candidates will be employed on a three-year fixed-term contract at a council and gain varied work experience across different specialties within planning departments. They will be mentored by more senior members of staff within the planning department.

Learning and Development: Graduates will start a fully-funded master’s in planning through a master’s course or level 7 apprenticeship, with the support of their employing council. Once trainees have finished their postgraduate study, they are on track to become fully accredited planners and then able to progress into more senior roles. Council planning teams have excellent career progression routes, and a vested interest in seeing their Pathways graduates succeed. 

Council Partners: The scheme will work with local councils across England and Wales, who will hire graduates as part of the programme and support their career development as accredited planning professionals. As councils continue to sign up, find the most up-to-date list of cohort 2 partner councils, here.

Graduate's Experiences

Jade, London Borough of Barnet

"Planning is really diverse and there are so many areas that you could branch into which is what makes it such an interesting career choice. A career in planning allows you the opportunity to make places and spaces better for people in the local community.

For me, my favourite speciality in planning is heritage and conservation. I think it’s fascinating to learn about our local historical buildings and establish how they can be sensitively and sympathetically developed. I would recommend planning as a career because there’s always something different to do and something new to learn. There is a great sense of achievement associated with being a town planner and it's always really rewarding and inspiring to see the projects you’ve worked on come to life."

Mark, from London Borough of Barnet was asked: Tell us about a project that you have worked on which has made a positive difference?

"I have worked on a number of projects for the Council’s social housing partners, a number of which have since been completed and occupied – resulting in the regeneration of poor quality housing stock and the provision of new homes for a range of people who would otherwise be reliant on substandard accommodation, or forced to relocate."

Nyasha, from Norwich City Council, was asked: What advice would you give to anyone thinking of working as a planner in local government?

"I would say it is a great opportunity and you should take it. Working as a Planner in Local Government allows you to see the difference your work has in the local area and it is also a great way to get to know the area you live.

There is more to planning besides dealing with planning applications, you also have the opportunity to get involved in other things such as Policy, Enforcement and Conservation."

Simone, from Bristol City Council was asked: Can you tell us what makes Planning such an exciting career in local government?

"Working in Planning in local government means you’re working on the solutions of today’s big challenges: literally harnessing and channelling development so that it facilitates sustainable, healthy, and inclusive communities to flourish."