The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)’s Future Trends Survey for April 2015 shows widespread consistency in comparison to March, the workload index remaining around the same at +35 from +36 last month. The private housing sector remains strong, rising to +38, while the commercial sector forecast dropped slightly to +15. In addition, the public sector forecast saw a drop to +3 while the community sector forecast "experienced a significant decline" to -3 from +9 in March. However, workload forecast balance figures have remained high, and practices in London and the South of England are most confident about medium-term workloads. Small practices continue to be positive about the outlook for future workloads, while medium and large practices "continue to be even more optimistic about future growth."
According to the RIBA, only 1% of participating practices surveyed anticipate that they will be employing fewer permanent staff in three months’ time. Each quarter the survey asks practices about their permanent staffing levels. They have reported that current staffing levels are 6% higher than in the equivalent quarter in 2014, while 13% of respondents reported that they had personally been under-employed in the last month.
According to Adrian Dobson, RIBA Director of Practice, "the overall picture is still one in which confidence levels amongst architects about future workloads are high. The rising Future Trends Staffing Index indicates a strong feeling that the current market for architectural services is stable or growing for the vast majority of practices."
He continues: "However, there remains widespread reporting of intense fee competition in many sectors, along with tight profit margins. The decline in the community sector forecast is somewhat disappointing, while the fall in the public sector forecast may reflect on-going uncertainty about future public sector capital spending."
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.