The Royal Institute of British Architects' (RIBA) latest Future Trends Survey indicates a small drop from February's index, "down to +35 from its all-time high of +41." Despite this, "confidence levels about an improvement in future workloads for architects remain very solid." All types of practice size, ranging from those with fewer than 10 employees to those with over 50 staff, are "reporting positive balance figures." The strongest future workload forecasts came from Scotland and the North of England, suggesting that "the recovery in confidence levels is now widespread across the UK and has spread beyond London and the South East."
The percentage of respondants in this latest report indicating that they had been underemployed in the last month was 17%, the lowest figure since the survey was established in January 2009. Although there is "significant spare capacity" within the profession, this figure suggests that "real increases in workloads are beginning to gradually erode the spare capacity within practices."
RIBA Director of Practice, Adrian Dobson said: "Optimism about future workload continues to be driven largely by a widespread strengthening of the private housing sector across the UK and an increasing pick-up in commercial projects. We continue to see widespread pick-up in the level of enquiries and new commissions, particularly in the housing and commercial sectors – but at the same time our architects are still reporting a very competitive market for their services with profit margins on many projects remaining very tight."
The monthly survey is designed to "monitor the employment and business trends affecting the architectural profession throughout the period of economic downturn," the data from which is analyzed by both the RIBA and the Fees Bureau. It is a "representative sample of the range of different practice sizes and geographical locations" with 1,600 British Architects from 226 firms contributing.
Read the March 2014 report in full here (PDF).