Careers Advice: the importance of engaging with young people pursuing careers in the built environment

Written by: Jez Abbott
Published on: 23 Mar 2016

 Lauren ParkIn January our practice had a visit from Scotland's cabinet secretary for fair work, skills and training Roseanna Cunningham. She wanted to learn more about our role not just in supporting major infrastructure projects in Scotland, but in engaging with young people pursuing careers in the built environment.

Her visit was prompted by PBA signing up to the Scottish Business Pledge towards the end of last year, involving a commitment to fair work practices including payment of the living wage, investing in youth and playing an active role in the community. This allows practices to demonstrate corporate social responsibility and the positive outcomes we aim to achieve in our bid materials.

I believe the value to a practice and its professionals of supporting educational opportunities cannot be doubted. This is why consultancies like ours invest heavily in training and apprenticeships programmes. It engages in community outreach through skill-building activities across the UK – including with school children in central and east Scotland. 

I am a chartered planner at PBA’s Glasgow office. I studied geography and social anthropology at University of St Andrews before going on to complete a masters in city planning and regeneration at the University of Glasgow. When I completed my masters in 2012, I started on the practice's graduate development programme. 

This two-year programme put me on courses for report writing, presentation delivery, networking skills and sustainable development where I worked with other graduates to learn the skills within a multidisciplinary firm. 

The fast-paced nature of planning calls for a wide range of experience and working for a mixture of clients, so attracting people when they are young and highly adaptable has clear professional benefits. It gives them time to work out what they are most interested in and helps the practice hone its skills base.

I’ve discovered I really like stakeholder engagement: I have enjoyed working on a number of charrettes over the last couple of years and I’m currently organising a public consultation event for a proposed housing site in the Edinburgh greenbelt.

I’m keen to develop my facilitation skills and believe in the multiple benefits that engaging with young people can bring to a practice and the wider professional workplace. 

Lauren Park is an assistant planner at PBA’s Glasgow office.