The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)’s Future Trends Survey for September 2015 shows a level of consistency with the workload index remaining unchanged at a balance figure of +21. All nations and regions within the United Kingdom returned positive balance figures, with practices in Scotland responding most confidently about workloads in the next quarter. The report states that practices remain firmly positive about overall workload prospects in the medium term, though with "an apparent leveling-off in the rate of growth."
The private housing sector workload forecast in rose slightly to +21 (from +18 in August), while the commercial sector workload forecast fell very slightly to +13 in September (from +14 in August). Architects "remain cautious" over growth in public sector work, with the sector forecast increasing marginally to –3 (from –4 in August). The community sector forecast, meanwhile, remained unchanged.
According to the RIBA, the RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index also "regained ground this month," standing at +12 in September (in comparison to +7 in August). 95% of responding practices expect their permanent staffing levels either to increase or to stay the same over the next few months. The report states that "medium-sized practices are the most positive about future staffing levels (balance figure +48), compared with small practices (+7) and large practices (+25)." Interestingly, September also saw an increase in the proportion of practices expecting to increase their temporary staffing levels over the next quarter. A number of practices have opened offices and/or increased recruitment in Manchester and other northern cities in recent months, "further demonstrating the increase in opportunities within the North of England."
According to Adrian Dobson, RIBA Director of Practice, "our responding practices continue to paint a picture of a healthy market for architectural services, with more opportunities to negotiate better fee levels and profit margins on projects beginning to rise." Nevertheless, "we have received reports that changes to housing association rent criteria seem to be having an impact on sustainable delivery of affordable housing, particularly affordable rented housing."
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.