Last autumn I blogged about the devaluation of Planning as an agency function – at least as I saw it happening Outside London. But it now strikes me that it’s not just that agencies are scared by how much decent experienced Planners cost and are promoting their own staff to Planning status instead. It’s cause-and-effect – Planners have always earned decent money but now there aren’t many properly experienced t-shaped Planners around they can pick and choose where to go and to an extent name their price.
I suppose it probably all stems back to the recession, when investing in recruiting a Junior Planner to train up for the future would have been a brave move for most agencies. So now experienced Planning people are rather thin on the ground and if an Outside London agency wants to hire a proper Planner with 5-8 years experience they will really struggle – one big agency up here has been recruiting for a Planning Director since last July.
As an experienced northern Planner I should therefore be rather pleased at this turn of events making my skills more attractive. But I’m not because I think its causing a really unhelpful mindset among agencies that they can’t afford or won’t be able to find a really good Planner. So they get used to doing without formal Planning input at all, or promote someone internally to ‘do Planning’ without anyone more experienced in place to train them up.
Essentially, Up North we seem to be back where we started when I became a Junior Planner in 1999.
A Planner friend of mine moved to a big Yorkshire agency four or five years ago, looked at the state of Planning in the North and very sensibly persuaded the agency to let her build and train her own department, with new Junior Planners coming on board every year so now they have a proper, London-sized team with the skills and experience to make a real difference to the agency – which, unsurprisingly, is flying.