Meet our apprentice Benjamin

About Benjamin

I am currently working as a Planning Officer while undertaking a Level 7 Chartered Town Planning Apprenticeship.

I will then be working towards a master's qualification and chartered status.

Benjamin Marshall

Why did you apply for an apprenticeship?

A relevant planning degree is often desired when applying for more advanced roles within the public and private sector.

The degree should provide me with a large amount of additional theoretical experience focused on larger themes within planning. This will be knowledge and experiences which are largely more difficult to achieve within a daily role and as such, the experience will be invaluable. 

The apprenticeship was chosen over a part-time degree. This was based on my previous experience undertaking a level 3 degree, which I found more practical than pure academic studies.

The ability to apply knowledge, question processes and develop your professional mindset based on weekly studies is invaluable.

What is it like being an apprentice here?

Owing to the limited amount of time that I’ve been employed by the council, it is difficult to comment on my ‘apprentice experience’.

That being said, I can only speak highly of the treatment during my interview when I outlined my desire to experience this additional development.

It made me confident in the support I could receive from the council and comfortable seeking this higher development, which I had no experience of as yet.

What are you enjoying most?

The apprenticeship opens avenues for growth both personally and professionally.

Already after limited sessions, I’ve found myself questioning the way planning as a field has grown and what it could and should be. I may have limited power to change elements of the wider field but that is not to say I can’t try to develop my own part within the practice or improve my own decision making.

What are you enjoying least?

There are limited parts of the course I can speak about when it comes to lack of enjoyment owing to how recently my course started.

I think there is a large amount of trepidation regarding the amount of work that will result from the course, though that is counteracted by what I will achieve from the course and its implications on my career.

What have you learnt so far?

Primarily the focus so far has been setting up the course and how the processes will work. I can definitely say that I am beginning to ask myself questions regarding the interconnectivity of different elements of planning.

How this will manifest and how it will impact my daily role at this point I can’t say, but I look forward to reflecting on this and seeing the impact.

What support are you receiving?

As part of the apprenticeship, we have a set tutor within the university who supports us through the course.

As well as this, there are additional support mechanisms available depending on individual circumstances.

From the workplace point of view, I will have a mentor throughout the course who works with me regarding my continuous professional development. I also have my line manager who provides day-to-day workplace support.

How do you manage time between work and study?

The current plan is to set up the tools to form a well-organised system, allowing time now to save time later.

Without a system of work and an understanding of how I will undertake this task it will be difficult to stay on top of things. A large concern will be the balance of work, study and life.

There is no easy answer however in reality - while a lot can change in 2 years, the outcome is worth the work and dedication being put into it. 

Any advice for someone considering an apprenticeship?

Bearing in mind the commitment you will be making, you have to make sure you are open and realistic in terms of help or support you may need.

Also you have to be confident that you can provide your normal daily service and then dedicate the necessary hours outside of work to complete your tasks. A degree especially at higher education level is not an easy route by any means. Arguably it is harder and more taxing, and yet more rewarding than just undertaking a degree. 

If you believe you have what it takes, if you believe you have the passion and dedication that can persevere through hard work and study, then as long as you try your best, there is no reason an apprenticeship shouldn’t be for you.

Truth be told sometimes you don’t know your own abilities until you test them.

My Level 3 apprenticeship allowed me to grow personally and professionally beyond what I thought possible. I am excited and nervous to see what this degree apprenticeship will bring me, and the places it may lead me.

Other help and information

If you are considering an apprenticeship but are uncertain, there are a host of materials online available which can help with that. There is no age to stop learning and this route is a fantastic way to get qualifications, without having to attend university or college full time. 

You can view apprentice ambassador stories and read about their experiences on the website. 

To anyone wanting to understand a bit more about town planning and the impact it can have, I also have this link to a campaign lead by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) about Planning your world.