If you are an overseas planner looking for work experience in the UK, you are on the wrong page - you need to be here!
The RTPI advice to planners seeking work abroad, based on years of our members' experience, is that there is no substitute for going to the target country, however briefly, on whatever basis: holiday, visiting family, a study visit or a conferences. It gives a great advantage in terms of researching and assessing the job market. Imagine overseas planners wanting to come to the UK to work. We would think them rather naïve if they thought they could secure a planning job without coming here first, talking to the RTPI, finding out about the system and reading the planning journals - quite apart from the complexities of being interviewed.
How to find out about vacancies
There are various ways to find out about international vacancies which are listed below:
Large consultancy companies such as those listed below either have offices overseas or have planning teams that work on international projects (please note in recent years many consultancies have merged and some that you may have heard about may now form part of another company).
The RTPI's official magazine, The Planner, lists many job vacancies online some of which inlcude international positions. Please see: http://jobs.theplanner.co.uk/ for further information.
Another online service is TownPlanningJobs.com, which allows jobseekers to search by country, State/Province or city.
RTPI Consultants Directory
The RTPI Consultants Directory available on-line allows you to search by country for consultancies which have experience overseas. The search facility may help you get contacts: go to the Country of Operation window (scroll on past the Location window) and choose the continent and then the country. That should give you a list of consultants which have worked in the country that interests you. As the entries mostly do not indicate the scope, level or date of involvement in a particular country, it would be best to use the directory as the jumping-off point for more detailed research via the company's own website or annual report.
Exchanging with a planner with similar qualifications in another country is sometimes an option: please see the separate briefing on exchanges.
The American Planning Association runs a planning exchange programme between US and British planners. It is a for a two week period and successful candiates job shadow each other. It is a great way of sharing knowledge and learning another planning system hands-on. For further information see the American Planning Association website.
Offering your services as a volunteer is also a possibility: see the separate briefing on volunteering, which lists organisations and useful web-sites including Volunteering Services Overseas.
Finding out about planning systems
You should have some knowledge of the planning system of any country you are considering. The best single source of information on planning systems in other countries is the International Manual of Planning Practice (IMPP), published by the International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISoCaRP). The book version of IMPP gives a one-page on guide to planning for each of 100 countries; the CD-ROM sold with it gives much longer entries and links. Full details of this publication are given on the IMPP page of the ISoCaRP website. RTPI members are entitled to a discount, paying €30 instead of €35 for the book and CD, with postage extra.
For Commonwealth countries, Urban and Regional Planning and Development in the Commonwealth, edited by Arthur Ling in 1988 (now out of print but available in libraries), was in its time a comparable reference work for the Commonwealth, and though it has not been updated, it is a worthwhile starting point.
It is easier to get work overseas as a planner if you have UK experience. So if possible, it would be better to get experience here first (and ideally, your Chartered membership), then look for opportunities abroad. If you are keen to travel sooner rather than later, you will have to reckon that any temporary work you get is unlikely to be in planning.
What about applying for membership?
The RTPI accepts work experience gained in any country as eligible for membership applications. You will need to ensure that the experience you gain is at the required level for the class to which you are applying. For more on this, see the guidance for membership applications in the membership section.
If you already know in which country you will be working, or which region of a larger country, and would like to contact fellow members living there, the RTPI International Policy and Research Officer may be able to put you in touch with them (please note we cannot give out members' details as we resepct their privacy but we can contact them on your behalf).
Recognition of UK planning qualifications is normally at the employer's discretion; and admission to a local planning association is at the discretion of the local association. Please see the list of planning institutes and associations world-wide on this website for contact details.
Staying in touch and keeping up your CPD
If you would like to stay in touch with Institute work, the best way is via this website which carries a very large amount of policy and research information. You can also join RTPI Networks free of charge to keep up with specialist topics: we have Networks on urban design, regeneration, housing, transport and international development among many others.
The RTPI International Development Network (IDN) gives you regular bulletins of world-wide planning news. There are also some contributions from IDN members on their experiences working abroad.
You need to inform the Subscriptions Department when you change your address and ask them to recalculate your membership fee.
You will need to keep up your CPD while you are away. This is all explained in the website article on Career Breaks and Professional Development.