The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)’s Future Trends Survey for May 2015 continues to show widespread consistency in comparison to March and April, with the workload index remaining "remaining virtually unchanged" at +37 from +36 last month. The private housing sector, which remained strong last month, fell slightly to +34 from +38 while the public sector moved into negative territory for the first time since July 2014. The RIBA claim that "respondents anticipate public sector spending on building projects to be flat at best over the coming quarter." However, the forecasts for the commercial sector rose to +21 from +15 last month, and the community sector forecast "made a recovery from its recent decline" rising to +4 from -3 in April.
Workload forecast balance figures have remained high, and practices in the north of England, Wales and the West, and London are most confident about future workloads. The survey reports that medium-sized practices continue to be the most optimistic about growth, while small and large practices "remain positive about the outlook."
According to the RIBA, 17% of participating practices expect to see an increase in temporary staff over the next quarter whilst only 2% anticipate employing fewer permanent staff over the same period. Just 12% of respondents said that they had personally been under-employed in the last month and practices also reported that they currently employ 5% more students compared with the equivalent period last year.
According to Adrian Dobson, RIBA Director of Practice, the "employment index has been in very positive territory for some time and there is every indication that the employment market for salaried architects will remain strong over the coming quarter. Our practices expect the commercial sector to perform well during 2015, led by the office and leisure markets. Despite a slight dip in the private housing sector forecast, possibly associated with decreased house building around the recent General Election, it remains the best performing of our sector forecasts."
He continues: "We continue to receive reports that clients remain resistant to increases in fee levels, leading to tight profit margins on many projects. However, as the employment market becomes more competitive, we would expect to see greater salary expectations along with more general economic growth bringing some upward momentum to fee levels."
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.