Town Planning and Job Hunting
When an architect graduates from school, he partners with another architect and they form a consultancy firm. If a surveyor graduates from school, he forms a firm and starts practicing. If a medical student graduates from school, he opens a clinic but when a town planner graduates from school, he stays at home and seek for government employment which is not available. Tpl Ashiru Olugbenga Oladimeji
I’ve come across so many posts, so many comments from young and old town planners about seeking/hunting for town planning jobs. Whenever I meet with Town Planners who are unemployed, the frustration in their eyes is enough to make one cry. When I walk into classrooms where town planners are being trained, the hopelessness on their faces about the future is enough for one to seek psychiatric diagnosis.
The present economic downturn in the country has taken a big toll on the availability of jobs in virtually all sectors of the economy. Workers are getting retrenched every day, multinationals companies also retrench and sack workers almost every day, while higher institutions keep churning out a large number of graduates on a yearly basis.
The quest to search for a good job/any job now becomes a burden for the trainee and the trainer, parents and their children, lecturers and their students. The Town Planning profession (also referred to as Urban Planning or Urban and Regional Planning) is not left out in the colossal deficit in the employment sector. As a professional course, Town Planning focuses on the ordering of land, transportation routes, facilities to ensure adequate livability and functionality. Town planners have a connection to virtually all aspects of life and should never be unemployed because “Town Planning is “LIFE” and survival without Town planning is a risk”, in fact as they say in the local parlance “after God na Town Planner “.
According to the TOPREC President, Tpl. Layi Egunjobi FNITP, currently 3.3 billion people are already living in cities and by 2030 that number will have risen to almost five (5) billion. The total population is increasing by 280,000 people per day, while the bulk of this increase is occurring in less developed regions. I ask again,
“Why should a town planner be unemployed?”
I have seen so many planners pushing and blaming the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners / TOPREC for the non-availability of Town Planning jobs but I look deep into the constitutions, going through its aim and objectives to create a check list if the organization are actually performing or saddled with that responsibility, I got the answer on No E of the objectives of the NITP constitution. i.e.
“The protection of the practice of the profession and the promotion of the WELFARE of those PRACTICING IT.”
, talks about the welfare of planners and for a good welfare they need A GOOD JOB.
Aim and Objectives of NITP
The Aim of the Institute shall have the following objectives-
- The advancement of public awareness of the importance of their living and working environments and the necessity for their protection.
- The advancement of Town planning education, training, research and practice
- The dissemination of Town planning information through conferences, seminars, meetings, exhibitions and publications.
- The establishment and enforcement of a code professional practice and conduct for Town planning practitioners in Nigeria.
- The protection of the practice of the profession and the promotion of the welfare of those practicing it.
- The acquisition and disposal of landed properties and other assets and the raising of funds where necessary, for the purpose of carrying out objectives of the institute
- The acceptance of any gift, endowment or bequest made to or for the institute and the carrying on of any trust attached to such gifts, endowment or bequest
The TOPREC is a statutory body established by Town Planners Registration (etc) Degree 3 of 1988 which has now become an Act of parliament cited as CAP T7 LFN 2004. The Council was inaugurated on the 30th November, 1989. By its establishment, TOPREC was charged with the responsibilities to:
Determine who is a town planner for the purpose of the law.
- Determine what standards of knowledge and skill to be attained by persons seeking to become member of the profession and reviewing those standards from time to time as circumstances may require
- Secure in accordance with the law, the establishment and maintenance of a register of persons entitled to practice the profession
- Regulate and control the practice of the profession in all its aspects and ramifications.
- Maintain discipline in accordance with the law
- Perform such other functions which in council’s opinion are calculated to facilitate the carrying on of its activities under the law.
Efforts by NITP in creating jobs for planners in the country is already on the high side.
This can be seen in the efforts of past presidents of the Institute. A recent example is that of the immediate past president of the institute Late Tpl. Dr. Femi Olomola Ph.D., FNITP, PPNITP, who stated in his acceptance speech after his election that he proposed and pledged a-ten-years development plan for the Institute and the commencement of a yearly National Urban Settlement Summit. He also planned to create at least five million units of jobs per annum for registered town planners via the introduction of a Land Use Planning Report (LUPAR), which would be accompanied with applications for building permits, issuance of certificate of occupancy, and opening of corporate accounts with banks.
Dear planners, apart from the effort of NITP and TOPREC, what are we doing personally to make ourselves employable, how many people know you as a town planner, do you introduce yourself as a planner in your C.D.A, place of work, neighbourhood, place of worship, recreational centers etc. Let’s have it at the back of our minds that if you are not known, then you are not known and you can’t be consulted for any issue relating to your profession.
Right from school days, it has been observed that planners are not usually trained to network, socialize and relate with other students in other departments because of their tight schedules or what? They hardly participate in campus politics and it is so bad that the people that will value us are the ones we neglect. For us to get good jobs, we need to network, socialize and relate by joining international organizations like Rotary club, Leo club etc. We also need to join social clubs available all over the country. It’s not a crime for planners to join political parties because planning without politics amounts to nothing. Planners should improve on the above suggestions in order to be among the movers and the shakers of the society. Afterwards the holy book says ARISE AND SHINE FOR THINE LIGHT IS COMETH.
Urban planning graduates play a key role in how the places we live in are managed, developed and possess a variety of transferable skills
Jobs directly related to your degree include:
- Facilities manager
- Historic buildings inspector/conservation officer
- Housing manager/officer
- Local government officer
- Town planner
- Transport planner
Jobs where your degree would be useful include:
- Building surveyor
- Civil Service administrator
- Community development worker
- Environmental manager
- Estate agent
- Landscape architect
- Planning and development surveyor
- Sustainability consultant
If it is true that town planners (which I’m sure of) possess the above qualities then why are we unemployed? I traced this to the non-proactive nature of most planners. Non-proactive because when an architect graduates from school, he partners with another architect and they form a consultancy firm. If a surveyor graduates from school, he forms a firm and starts practicing. If a medical student graduates from school, he opens a clinic but when a town planner graduates from school, he stays at home and seek for government employment which is not available.
Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don’t restrict your thinking to your field of study alone especially in this age of information communication technology (.
You will need to keep up to date with current planning, built environment and wider environmental issues if you want to be a force and create a career in planning.
Try to get work experience through relevant part-time or temporary jobs, voluntary positions or internships. Many local authorities and private sector employers offer work placements in planning departments and they may also have opportunities for work shadowing or workplace visits. You could be a volunteer that provides free planning advice to those who cannot afford professional fees. Use this year to build on your skills, network and develop contacts.
Student membership of a professional body such as the Nigerian institute of Town Planners NITP, Urban And Regional Planning Student Association of Nigeria (UPRSAN) should help in increasing the networking and training opportunities by linking up with Association of Town Planning Consultants of Nigeria(ATOPCON).
Urban planning graduates can also go on to careers in surveying, estate management, architecture etc. in order to be a master of all.
Opportunities also exist with neighbourhood planning organisations, housing associations and transport agencies, as well as with private Planning and Environmental Consultancies and private developers.
Studying urban planning allows you to develop specialist knowledge in town and regional planning, providing you with a range of professional skills such as:
- Knowledge of planning law and legislation;
- Finance and policy development;
- Strategic thinking;
- Analytical research;
- Making a reasoned argument;
- Professional report writing and presentation;
- Partnership working and collaboration.
- Verbal and written communication;
- Negotiation and mediation;
- Problem solving;
- Impartiality and diplomacy;
- General and people management;
- Pragmatism and sensitivity.
With the above, Why are Town Planners still unemployed?
There are a variety of career opportunities within the planning profession in both public and private sectors. Within the profession, there are a number of specialties an individual can pursue, including economic development, transportation, housing, urban design and environmental.
In conclusion, town planners should move away from job hunting to job creation, they should socialize, interact and network in order to increase our public relations. We need to talk to the public rather than talk to ourselves alone, because if you don’t make yourself relevant, you can’t be relevant.
For you to be employed KNOCK AND THE DOOR SHALL BE OPENED, SEEK AND YE SHALL FIND afterwards if you don’t blow your trumpet nobody will blow it for you.
Tpl Ashiru Olugbenga Oladimeji
Ashiru Olugbenga O. is a registered Town Planner with NITP & TOPREC and founder of Voice of a Town Planner - aimed towards projecting & advocating for the Town Planning Profession in Nigeria.