The RIBA Future Trends Survey for August 2015 showed signs of slowing after indications of growth for architects during the summer. The RIBA Future Trends Workload Index dropped one point to +21.
The North was most optimistic at +42, while practices in London (+17), the South (+12), and Midlands and East Anglia (+14) are becoming wary of workload growth for the next quarter. Large practices (51+ staff) returned a balance figure of 0, indicating a plateau in workload, while small (1-10 staff) and medium (11-50) sized practices returned balance figures +18 and +36 respectively, displaying more confidence. Despite the changes, the forecast remains positive with the value of work at a growing annual rate of +8%
Several sector forecasts fell from July to August - private housing went from +23 in July to +18 and public decreased from -1 to -4. The commercial sector went up one point to +14. The community sector forecast stayed the same (+1).
96% of surveyed practices expected permanent staffing levels to increase or stay the same in the near future, despite a modest decline from +12 in July to +7 in August in the RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index. Small practices are less likely to be appointing new staff, with a balance figure of +2, than medium (balance figure of +32) and large (balance figure of +20) practices in August.
“There is plenty of anecdotal evidence of practices across the UK having difficulties in recruiting experienced staff with specific skill sets,” said RIBA Executive Director Members Adrian Dobson “The overall picture is one of continued increases in workloads, though with a consensus that in the coming months the pace of growth is likely to slow significantly.”
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.