We interviewed a few of our latest recruits who can give you an insight to their experiences of KTP thus far.

Matthew Tanswell studied at Queen’s University Belfast. After completing his degree in Environmental Planning he went onto study a MEng in Urban and Rural Design.

The support and belief afforded to me from my university lecturers played a fundamental role in my decision to continue at Queen’s University Belfast pursuing the KTP route.

Matthew is currently working for ARUP, a global independent firm of designers, planners, engineers and consultants, who through their collaborative approach and total design ethic, aim to make a positive difference in shaping a better world. Their work stretches across many different sectors such as master-planning, transportation and urban regeneration- to name but a few!

My passion for understanding and improving the urban environment in which we live, work and play as well as the importance of having a robust and innovative planning and design system to meet the social, environmental and economic needs of its citizens, have played a pivotal role in my degree progression and reasoning for choosing the KTP route.

Due to the dearth of urban design jobs in Northern Ireland and the scarcity of KTP’s in the planning field, Matthew felt it was the most efficient, swift and beneficial way to secure a full-time, degree-related job.

Matthew was first introduced to the KTP programme during his time at university. Initially it was not his preferred route as he intended to join an urban design company straight out of university. However, after examining the job market as a graduate, Matthew gained a new perspective on the situation. He realised that not only was the KTP beneficial for the selected company and university but also had extensive benefit for his development into professional practice with a reputable company.

Prior to commencing the role, Matthew said the application process was well-structured and straightforward. The first stage consisted of providing an initial application and a cover letter. If successful at this stage, you then had the opportunity to present how you would approach the KTP project to a company representative and the academic supervisor who you would be working alongside during your time as a KTP associate.

Currently, Matthew’s approach to the KTP project is multifaceted and his workload is highly diverse:

In terms of the company, he has been actively involved in the production of village plans for the Lisburn and Castlereagh district, the East Bank Framework and Arup’s report and workshops in collaboration with 100 Resilient Cities.

In terms of his project, Matthew is working on producing a resilience for planning and development model with the aim of providing a platform for cities and their urban planners to analyse vulnerabilities and their adaptive capacity to the shocks and stresses faced by cities in the 21st century. The goal is to produce an effective tool to measure the resiliency of plans and policies in order to enhance decision making in our global urban systems.

The KTP program allows you to gain experience and skills from leaders in your field of work. The program itself opens up a wealth of opportunities which would not be available in a typical graduate job. An example of this would be my attendance in the next few weeks at the Resilience Skills Network in London with Arup. This will be a fantastic opportunity to broaden my network and converse with highly regarded practitioners on the potential of building resiliency into the planning system, not just here in Northern Ireland, but in cities throughout the world.

Matthew said the last few months have been a steep learning curve both in terms of professional and personal development. Only recently graduating prior to commencing the KTP, Matthew did not have any practical experience of the planning system or urban resilience. As a result, he has had to work hard to build a baseline knowledge capacity on the subject of resilience while also prioritising time to get involved with the work and activities within the company.

Initially, it was difficult transitioning from university into a full time working environment, however with the right support received through the KTP program from his academic supervisors the transition has been made smoother. Although he is only a few months in, he hopes over the next two years he can bring a different perspective to the resilience movement while embedding new knowledge into the company.

I would recommend the KTP program to anyone who is interested in progressing their career within their chosen field at an advanced rate. Although there may be many options available to you, I would recommend giving strong consideration to a KTP. I think it is all about finding out what is best for you, your skill-set, and how you see your career progressing over the foreseeable future.

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