In this blog, you will learn:

The planning profession in numbers

The planning profession, which is a vital component in shaping cities and communities, has witnessed compelling developments throughout recent years.

To delve into the numbers and statistics associated with these developments, we’re taking a look through the Royal Town Planning Institute’s (RTPI) ‘State of the Profession 2023’ report. 

From the percentage of women practising in the planning sector, to the changes in salary rates across the past 20 years, we’re uncovering the key statistics highlighted in the report.

There are around 22,000 planning professionals in the UK

From tackling climate change to creating solutions for the housing crisis, Planners across the UK play an important part in confronting some of the biggest challenges of the modern day.

Throughout these challenges, the planning profession appeared to maintain stability with the number of people working in the sector throughout 2023.

This is an encouraging sign that despite adversities within the sector, professionals are committing their skills and expertise to mitigate issues and create a brighter future for the planning profession.

Over 18,000 Planners live in England

The majority of Planners living in the UK reside in England. As of 2023, there were 18,100 Planners living in England, 1,600 planners living in Scotland, 1,500 planners living in Wales and just 800 planners living in Northern Ireland.  

Around 40% of Planners are women

An unchanged statistic since 2019, as of 2023, around 40% of Planners are women. 

Whilst still less than half, this number is much higher when compared to other professions such as Chartered Surveyors, where only 15% of professionals are women. 

The overall female RTPI membership stands similarly at 41%. However, the number of female RTPI members working as Town Planning Officers changes dramatically when broken down into age categories. 

If split into two halves, with a median age of 42, the elder half of this divide is almost two-thirds male. The younger half of the split however demonstrates near gender parity.

Only around 5% of Planners are from a racialised minority

Despite seeing an increase since 2019, only approximately 5% of Planners are from a racialised minority.

Currently, the planning profession sees a less diverse ratio than the overall population in terms of race and diversity and it appears that alongside gender, diversity within race and ethnicity is greater amongst the younger half of planning professionals. 

The salaries of Town Planners has been declining for nearly 20 years

According to the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, the real salaries of Town Planners has been on the decline for nearly two decades.

In 2005, the median annual salary of a Town Planner was £48,476 (adjusted for CPI inflation), however in 2022, the median annual salary was £33,946.

Based on these numbers, if salaries had continued to align with inflation since 2005, the average Planner should be making around £50,000 rather than the actual sum of just under £34,000. 

Whilst the Annual Survey on Hours and Earnings has been subject to small sample sizes and the expected geographic and demographic variation, the point stands that generally, Town Planners are more poorly paid than they were nearly 20 years ago. 

Around 50% of Planners are now employed in the private sector

Between 2009 and 2020, the number of Planners working within the public sector declined by a quarter and increased within the private sector by around 50%.

58% of local authorities have struggled to hire Planners

According to the Local Government Association’s workforce survey in 2022, 58% of local authorities across England found the recruitment of Planners challenging and struggled to hire as many Planners as they desired.

Not only did this statistic exceed half of all local authorities across England, it also showcased the highest percentage for any profession within the local authority workforce.  

If you’re struggling to hire Planners, why not reach out to our specialist planning consultant, Joel Khambay, to see how we can help? 

Around 75% of Planners in the UK are RTPI members

It is estimated that around three quarters of UK Planners are members of the RTPI which has over 27,000 active members. 

Over 5,000 Planners are aged between 40 and 44 years old

Based on averaging Annual Population Survey data (2016-2020), estimates show that the largest number of Planners are aged between 40 and 44 years old.

Data also shows that there is a decrease within the 30-34 year old cohort which might indicate that Planners within this age group are leaving the profession.

The average age of Town Planners who are members of the RTPI is 42 years old. 

9 out of 10 Town Planners in the RTPI membership work for a consultancy or local government

According to the 16,000 RTPI members identified as Planners for the purpose of the RTPI’s State of the Profession 2023 report, the split between public and private sector Planners is approximately even and of these professionals, 86% of them work in either local government or within a planning consultancy. 

Around 4,600 Planners work part time

According to the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, there are around 4,600 Planners working on a part time basis. 

On the other hand, there is a significantly larger number of Planners working full time, with 17,500 working on this basis.

Data relating to contract types is harder to determine, however there are indications that a large majority of Planners are on a permanent contract. 

Just 6 countries account for three quarters of the RTPI’s international membership

Despite there being RTPI members across 80 different countries and territories, just 6 of these countries or territories make up three quarters of international members.

These locations are Hong Kong, Ireland, China, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

Employers within Ireland, Australia, Canada and New Zealand often hire from each other’s talent pools and they have strong connections with the UK planning community. 

Over half of UK RTPI student members are women

As of May 2023, the RTPI had 3,600 student members within the UK which is 78% of the 4,600 student Planners in total. 

Amongst these student members, 52.46% are women, a higher proportion being female than in the UK planning profession as a whole.

Discover planning, development and regeneration jobs

As specialist recruiters within planning, development and regeneration, we boast an impressive history of linking proficient RTPI Planners with both local authorities and private sector entities across the United Kingdom. 

Are you seeking your next planning opportunity? Explore the latest jobs or submit your CV to uncover your next role now. 

Struggling to recruit Planners?

If you’re struggling to recruit Planners, why not get in contact with our Senior Consultant, Joel Khambay who will be able to discuss your options. We work with local authorities all over the UK to assist in their temporary, interim and permanent recruitment needs. 

Who is Spencer Clarke Group?

We are an energetic recruitment agency with a passion for transforming the recruitment experience. From the way we conduct business, to the culture in our office in the North West, we believe in having a positive influence and creating meaningful change.

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