The results of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Future Trends Survey for July 2014 show that the Workload Index among UK practices fell back to +28 (from +34 in June) with confidence levels among RIBA practices about the level of future workloads remaining "very strong in practices of all sizes across the whole of the UK." Whereas last month’s survey saw Scotland top the index with a balance figure of +50, London showed the greatest strength in July with a balance figure of +38. Practices located in Wales and the West were the most cautious about prospects for future workloads, returning a balance figure of just +12. The survey shows that actual workloads have been growing for four consecutive quarters and the overall value of work in progress last month was 10% higher than this time last year.
Adrian Dobson, Director of Practice at the RIBA, said that "the outlook for architects’ services continues to improve steadily, with many practices reporting a significant increase in the levels of enquiries they are receiving. However, our practices are still reporting significant competitive pressure on fees and profit margins on projects remain very tight. We are seeing the first evidence of practices having difficulty recruiting staff with specific skill sets, particularly in areas experiencing stronger economic growth such as London and the South East and north east Scotland." The report shows that there has actually been little change in the workload forecast analysis by sector, though the private housing sector (balance figure +33) and the commercial sector (balance figure +20) "appear to offer the best prospects for increases in medium-term workloads."
Whereas last month saw the highest figure for the main staffing forecast since the RIBA Future Trends monthly survey began in January 2009, the RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index fell back this month, decreasing to +10 this month compared with +16 in June. According to the RIBA, "the overwhelming majority of practices (95%) expect their staffing levels to either stay the same or increase during the next quarter, indicating that the architects’ profession remains confident about maintaining the momentum of recovery."
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 analysed 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 July 2014 report in full here. See last month's results in more detail: