The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)'s Future Trends Survey for September showed that, for yet another month, confidence is high among UK architects, with the workload index up fractionally to +29 from +28 in August. Again, this positive figure was spread right across the country, with the most optimistic reports coming from Northern Ireland and the North of England, reporting workload index figures of +80 and +46 respectively - promising figures considering that these two areas were "slowest to show signs of recovery" after the recession, according to the RIBA.
The survey also showed early signs that this recovery will be shared more equally among practices of varying sizes, with small practices reporting a workload index of +28, up from +24, while medium and large practices reported figures of +37 and +60 respectively, both down from +40 and +65. However, whether this relatively minor change in confidence will result in a longer term improvement for small practices is yet to be seen.
After a slight blip in August, housing has once again resumed its role as the fastest growing sector, with a workload index of +30, up from +23, while commercial work has dropped to +19. There were also modest signs of change in the public sector and community sector, reporting slightly increased work index figures of +5 and +7.
"Although the private housing and commercial sectors clearly offer the best current prospects, there is a sense of greater stability in public sector workloads, with larger practices in particular becoming more optimistic about a more predictable pipeline of public sector construction expenditure, and modest signs of increasing activity in the community sector,” said RIBA Director of Practice Adrian Dobson.
The Staffing Index also remained strong in September, increasing from +13 to +15, and only 2% of practices reporting that they expect to decrease their staffing levels. However, once again the report highlights that this consistently optimistic outlook on future staffing has not yet manifested itself in increased staffing levels. The report does show, however, that some practices are struggling to find staff with the skill sets they require, particularly in London and the South of England.
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 September 2014 report in full here.