Over the last few years transport planning has seen yet another roller coaster in terms of demand for skilled and experienced transport planners. We are now very much in a growth part of the cycle, with the result that employers, at least in the private sector, are again recruiting graduates and seeking to broaden their knowledge and experience while at the same time undertaking productive transport planning work. However, local authorities outside London have continuing problems and the picture is one of very tight budgets and skills development too often having to take second (or third or fourth!) place. There will be further attempts by TPS to engage with this issue in the next year or so, particularly in the context of the new governance arrangements emerging for transport, especially combined authorities.
Meanwhile, the TPS Professional Development Scheme (PDS), which seeks to provide a structured approach across organisations and regional boundaries, has continued throughout the post-recession period. Trainees using the scheme have nearly doubled since the recession, increasing to over 300 in 2015. The difficult questions raised by the recession did however allow the opportunity for the PDS to be strengthened through a new “review” process which seeks to support both trainees and mentors through site visits and wider training opportunities. This is now fully operational. The aim of the PDS as ever is to provide the depth and breadth that transport planners require at different levels of attainment, including awareness and knowledge as well as experience. The PDS is also closely aligned with the Transport Planning Professional (TPP) qualification which, like the PDS, was established in 2008. There are now around 200 TPPs.
The established PTRC Principles of Traffic and Transport 20 Week Evening Lecture Series is a very clear example of the breadth of knowledge needed and last year a process began of making sure that there was better co-ordination between PTRC and TPS.
Most recently the 20 different lectures have been analysed to show which units of the TPS PDS (and thus the TPP) they support – helping trainees and mentors to be able to identify clearly where awareness or knowledge of a subject has been achieved and to what extent. The next step is the addition of further reading or examples of where this needs to be expanded and how this might be done.
The series is particularly useful in providing knowledge from senior professionals which may not be readily available in-house. This is not because the skills aren’t there; instead it is often the case that the most skilled and experienced planners are in high demand – and deadlines have to be met both in the public and private sector.
Overall, proactive collaborations such as this illustrate the importance of professional bodies working together to help maintain and improve the transport planning skills base. The process itself supports the development and enhancement of both the Principles of Traffic and Transport lectures and the PDS and we look forward to further productive work between PTRC and TPS over the next few years.
Skills Director, TPS
The Principles of Traffic and Transport 20-Week Evening Lecture Series begins 29 Sept in Glasgow and Manchester, 30 Sept in Bristol and Birmingham and 19 Oct in London. Discounted rates are available for local authorities, charities and CILT/TPS members.
Click here to find out more about the TPS Professional Development Scheme.