Significant steps towards the development of a Place Management Apprenticeship Scheme were taken last month in Sheffield. A new Place Management Employers' Forum met for the first time to look at the current training needs of the sector as well as how to develop the employees of the future. The group discussed the employment needs of a wide range of place management organisations, including Local Authorities, Business Improvement Districts and Town Centre Partnerships. The main focus of the meeting was how the multifaceted role of the place manager and the complex requirements of places, of various sizes, could be better supported through a sector-wide apprenticeship scheme.

The Place Management Employers' Forum had been organised by Sheffield City Council and the Institute of Place Management and was attended by numerous sector representatives including several BIDs, consultants, ATCM, and The BID Foundation, as well as Sheffield Hallam University, Manchester Metropolitan University and the Landscape Institute, who work closely on training and development opportunities with IPM, through a Memorandum of Understanding.

The meeting heard about the skills and experience needed to be a successful place manager - and how cities like Sheffield needed to develop such talent, from Mick Crofts, Director of Business Strategy and Regulation - part of the council's Place Portfolio Team.

The training and assessment needs of apprentices and the support that is available to organisations to employ them were covered by Liz Gorb of Manchester Metropolitan University, which is a leading provider of Degree Apprenticeships. The process of establishing such a scheme for the sector and the time it would take was also covered by an experienced consultant, Christina Hirst, who has successfully supported the development of apprenticeships in surveying and town planning. Options for using existing apprenticeship standards were discussed.  Poppy Smith, from the Landscape Institute presented the opportunity to work more closely with them, as they are developing a similar scheme.

In discussing the potential career paths for apprentices, the meeting examined the roles of those working in place management. More work needs to be done to establish where there are similarities with other roles but early signs are that place management is more wide-ranging and complex than other forms of management. In order to be recognised by Government as a separate apprenticeship we will need to identify and articulate the specific aspects that distinguish place management from other sectors. Nevertheles, there was a lot of enthusiasm within the group for dedicated and targeted apprenticeships in place management, based on standards developed especially for the sector.

The group heard of the work now being done on Degree Apprenticeships by Manchester Metropolitan University in other sectors and of the experience the Landscape Institute and some related professional bodies have had in developing apprenticeships at the right levels.

The meeting identified the potential for two levels of apprenticeship entry to the sector. The first would be for school-leavers and would establish a clear understanding of place and people and how places function and are managed in the widest sense. This would then allow apprentices entering in this way to choose a wide variety of career paths after that. Some options discussed included planning, community services, policing, retailing, health care, and landscaping as well as the potential to continue a career in place management.

The second apprenticeship route was a more strategic pathway, of degree or Masters equivalence, which would develop the place leaders of tomorrow. 

Feedback from attendees was extremely positive and to follow up, undertake more in-depth analysis, and ensure that any initial thoughts are supported more widely, we will look to hold another consultative meeting before formally inviting place management employers to join Sheffield City Council and IPM in developing a proposal for a Place Management Apprenticeship Scheme.  This may need approval from the Institute for Apprenticeships to develop unique standards, or may require closer working with another sector.  We will pursue the route that will bring the most benefits to place management employers. 

If you are interested in being part of the Place Management Employers' Forum or have any questions, please email Simon Quin and we'll be in touch.

1st February 2018