The results of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Future Trends Survey for April show that confidence among UK practices remains high at a Workload Index of +35, the same as in March. The positive figures came from across the board, with practices of all sizes and from all regions of the UK predicting increased workloads in the near future. However, after last months' survey showed Scotland as the region with the brightest outlook, the balance of power has shifted back to London, where architects reported the highest index of +45.
RIBA Director of Practice Adrian Dobson commented that "optimism about future workload continues to be driven by a widespread strengthening of the private housing sector and an increasing pick-up in commercial projects," with private housing up to +33 from last month's workload forecast of +31, and commercial work up to +22 from +17.
Despite the increasing workloads, the number of individual architects who said they were under-employed in the past month actually showed a slight increase to 19%. This shows there is a significantly more capacity within the profession than is currently being used, and may help to explain the fact that the Staffing Index (a measure of how many practices expect to employ more staff in the near future) fell slightly from +11 last month to +8 this month. Dobson confirmed that, even though predictions for the future are largely positive "our practices continue to report a very competitive market for their services, with strong pressure on fee levels and 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 April 2014 report in full here (PDF).