The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)’s Future Trends Survey for March 2015 has "bounced back strongly" in comparison to February, as the workload index rose to +36 from +26 last month. Private housing and the commercial sector remains strong, while uncertainty still surrounds forecasts in the public sector. Workload forecast balance figures have remained high, the highest numbers being reported from practices in London (+42) and in the south of England (+39). In addition, large and medium sized practices have reported confidence about staffing levels, while small practices remain "more circumspect."
According to the RIBA, 12% of respondents reported that they had personally been under-employed in the last month consistent with last month's figures. The workload forecast increased across all four sectors with the private housing sector forecast responding most positively, standing at +34 in March (from +27 in February). The commercial sector workload forecast increased to +19 in March (from +15 in February). When annualised, the report shows that combined workload across these two sectors continues to rise at a rate of approximately 8% per year.
The community sector forecast also experienced a healthy uplift, from +5 in February to +9 in March. Meanwhile, the public sector workload remains the poorest performer in the monthly sector forecasts, despite an increase to +5 in March (up from +1 in February).
According to Adrian Dobson, RIBA Director of Practice, "this is a striking indication of greater stability in the employment market for salaried architects, with only 2 per cent of respondents expecting to have fewer permanent staff in three months’ time. We are also seeing a greater number of practices expecting an increase in temporary staff over the medium term. This highlights that there is more certainty about the new project pipeline."
He continues: "With a combined annualised increase of 8 per cent per annum, the private housing sector and commercial sector appear to be the primary drivers for the overall increase in the workload forecast. However, respondents continue to suggest that overly complex procurement practices have reduced involvement in public sector work. This is in the context of uncertainty around future levels of public sector spending on buildings."
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 reports in full here.