In this blog, you will learn:

  • Why there is a lack of interest in planning from younger generations.
  • How to encourage younger generations to be interested in planning.
  • Where the latest planning jobs are and how to apply for them.

You wouldn’t be misguided in thinking that the younger generation are passionate when it comes to important issues like sustainability, climate change and civil rights. 

If something involves standing up for what they believe in, the younger generation are instrumental in paving the way for change. Take Just Stop Oil for example, over recent years people of all ages have gone viral across social media for acts including blocking roads and putting a stop to sports matches, but there’s no denying that the younger generation have played a significant role in standing up as environmental activists.

So with the planning sector playing such a crucial part in shaping our built environment, why does there appear to be a lack of interest from young people in joining the industry?

In our latest blog, we’re exploring what can be done to encourage young people to take more interest in planning and join an industry that is right at the centre of environmental change and shaping the future for everyone.

Why is there a lack of interest in planning from younger generations?

The lack of interest in the planning industry from the younger generation can be attributed to a number of reasons, including:

  • Environmental concerns.
  • A lack of diversity within the field.
  • A lack of educational pathways.

Environmental concerns

The planning sector has a significant impact on the environment and sustainability and planning decisions dictate how land is used and developed. Should irresponsible decisions be made, this can lead to habitat destruction, fragmentation of ecosystems, loss of biodiversity and a significant negative impact on the natural environment. 

As concern for the future of the planet grows amongst younger generations, the repercussions of this impact might be encouraging them to turn their back on a career in planning. 

Now more than ever there is a significant spotlight on the environment, sustainability and social responsibility. For example, the UK government has committed to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, which involves implementing policies across various sectors such as transportation and agriculture.

If the younger generation feel as though the planning sector isn’t aligning with their priorities, such as looking for solutions to mitigate its environmental impact, this might dissuade them from pursuing a career in the field.

Feeling like there is insufficient opportunity to influence decision-making on environmental concerns, or as though their thoughts on important environmental matters won’t be acknowledged, could also dissuade young people from embarking on a career in planning. 

With the built environment being responsible for around 40% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, this highlights the need to take the issue seriously; however, a feared resistance to change from planning professionals might deter the younger generation from joining the profession. 

If it appears as though the sector is resistant to innovation or is turning a blind eye to environmental challenges, this could discourage those who are eager to enact meaningful change from being associated with the profession.

A lack of diversity within the field

According to averaging data from the Annual Population Survey, estimates show that the largest number of Planners are aged between 40 and 44. The Royal Town Planning Institute’s State of the Profession 2023 report states that only 5% of Planners are from a racialised minority, which is currently a less diverse ratio than the overall populations in relation to race and diversity.

A lack of representation within planning, whether this be in relation to age, ethnicity, gender, or any other socio-economic factor, could be instrumental in deterring the younger generation from joining the field. 
Planning recruitment specialist, Joel Khambay, says “The absence of professionals and mentors who share the same experiences can make the younger generation feel isolated and make it difficult for them to see themselves succeeding or making significant achievements within the industry.”
A lack of diversity can also lead to a workforce with limited perspectives and experiences. Diverse perspectives are essential within the planning industry and without a variety of ideas and approaches to problem-solving, Planners may miss out on innovative solutions to complex planning challenges. 

For example, failure to obtain community feedback on planning projects can lead to missed opportunities for addressing specific neighbourhood needs. A lack of representation amongst Planners can make it much more difficult to understand the needs of local communities and deter young people from joining the profession.
In 2023 the Planning Inspectorate, an executive agency of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, released an article detailing how they would be delivering equality, diversity and inclusion. 

Amongst their priorities for 2020 to 2025, they have pledged to ‘develop an inclusive culture, where people can be themselves at work’ and work on ‘attracting, selecting and retaining a talented and diverse workforce’. 
Despite a lack of diversity potentially being to blame for the lack of interest in planning from the younger generation, this shows promising signs that steps are being taken to address the matter.

A lack of educational pathways

A lack of clear educational pathways and barriers to education might also play a role in discouraging young people from beginning a career in planning.
Typically in the UK, the requirements to become a Planner include carrying out an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in planning or a related field.
Many Planners begin their education with a Bachelor’s degree in planning, architecture or environmental science, however a lack of equal access to education and awareness of the education required to be a Planner, can deter younger generations from considering this kind of degree.
Even if members of the younger generation are interested in pursuing a career within planning, a lack of accessible education can make it much more difficult for them to engage. For example, there are over 160 universities within the UK, however according to UCAS, there are only 90 providers of planning related courses. If a young person is unable to commute or relocate to a university that offers a planning degree, this could result in them opting to pursue a different course. 
Without dedicated paths for pursuing a career in planning, the younger generation might lack the specialised skills and knowledge to succeed in the field. In contrast to formal education, internships are a fantastic way for young people to gain the skills and experience required to practise as a Planner.
Joel Khambay says “The real world experience that internships give aspiring Planners is so important for developing their skills, building professional networks and applying theoretical knowledge.”
Joel continues “Having said this, a lack of awareness towards these internships can affect the uptake amongst young people.”
The RTPI offers valuable information on work experience within planning, where aspiring Planners could have the opportunity to accompany Planners on site visits and learn important administrative skills. 

How can we encourage younger generations to be interested in planning?

In order to encourage younger generations to take an interest in planning, it’s vital for the sector to showcase its relevance and impact in addressing the societal challenges that young people care about. 
Despite the perception young people might have, the planning sector plays an important role in shaping sustainable and resilient communities and addressing issues such as climate change, social equity and resilient communities. 
The redevelopment of King’s Cross in London is a prime example of the planning industry having a positive effect on the built environment. The transformation at King’s Cross changed a former industrial site into a vibrant mixed-use neighbourhood, consisting of streets, shops, parks, galleries, bars and homes to over 11,000 people. 
Not only has the redevelopment of King’s Cross created jobs and homes for thousands, it has also always had sustainability at its core. In November 2021, King’s Cross became carbon neutral. Had the once derelict industrial site not been completely overhauled by the hard work of Planners, this would never have happened. 
King’s Cross is also home to buildings that are connected with the on-site Energy Centre, which is powered by completely renewable energy.
King’s Cross is a fantastic example of the planning sector having sustainability and social equity at its core and an encouraging sign for younger people who share these values.
Involving younger generations in planning processes is also a crucial step towards getting them interested in the field. Participation in community workshops and youth advisory boards can provide young people with the opportunity to share their ideas and opinions on local planning projects. 
When it comes to engaging school children with the planning sector, the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) offers valuable resources for Teachers. From curriculum materials to use with primary and secondary aged children, the RTPI is on hand to provide young people with an introduction into planning. 
By showcasing the positive impact of planning projects on their local communities and providing accessible resources to children in schools, the sector is taking positive steps towards cultivating a new generation of passionate Planners and encouraging the younger generation to take a greater interest in planning! 

Planning jobs

If you’re searching for your next interim planning job, why not take a look at the latest vacancies, or simply upload your CV to be notified when a relevant position becomes available. 

Planning recruitment services

As planning recruitment specialists, we support local authorities and private sector businesses nationwide with their temporary, interim and permanent recruitment needs. 

If you’re struggling to fill a vacancy, why not get in touch with our planning specialist, Joel Khambay on 01772 954200 to see how we can help?

Who is Spencer Clarke Group?

Established in 2017, we’re a vibrant and progressive recruitment agency based in the heart of the North West. 

We continually reimagine the recruitment process to challenge convention and defy expectations; from creating a better recruitment experience to remodelling employee engagement, we thrive off doing things differently and turning heads along the way. 

We operate in two sectors:

Private Sector

Public Sector 

In eleven specialisms:

Accountancy & Finance

Education & SEND

Construction, Trades & Labour

Healthcare, Social Care & Nursing


Corporate Functions & Business Support

HR & Workforce Development

IT & Digital

Property & Asset Management  

Planning, Development & Regeneration 

Highways, Infrastructure & Engineering

© Spencer Clarke Group 2023
Site by Venn