Guy Source from recruitment consultant Hays Montrose looks at some of the major trends and projects occurring nationwide
Architecture is booming across the UK, and skills shortages are forcing practices to pay on average a 6% year-on-year salary increase. This is fantastic news for architectural professionals who historically have been underpaid compared with their colleagues in surveying, planning and engineering. More good news is that consultants have started to concentrate more on staff welfare in an effort to increase levels of retention. More than 80% of architectural practices now have a company pension scheme and benefits such as healthcare insurance and a company car.

Growth can be put down to a whole host of factors. One is the acute shortage of affordable housing across the UK, especially in the south-east of England. Current government policy encourages the use of inner-city brownfield sites. Because of this and the emphasis on sustainable development, there are a lot of larger mixed-use schemes, many of which require masterplans to ensure that they are developed in a fashion that creates a stable environment for both businesses and residents. There are many examples of such schemes, some of the better known ones being in east Birmingham, King's Cross, London and the Cardiff waterfront. These projects mean that landscape architecture is also experiencing a huge demand, as inner-city schemes are bound by more and more planning regulations relating to environmental concerns.

In London, specialist architects and technicians with large-scale affordable housing, healthcare or transport experience are in high demand, particularly due to the huge level of government investment in PFI and PPP projects. The refurbishment of the London Underground network over the next six years is creating an unprecedented demand for transport architects and technicians. Healthcare projects are also on the increase with major projects across the UK, such as Newcastle's £150m Royal Victoria Infirmary and a £380m hospital project in Manchester. There are currently over 25 architectural practices and multidisciplinary firms working on PFI projects in the capital alone.

In Northern Ireland, salaries are on the up to such an extent that in some instances they are matching central London. In Belfast we recently placed an architect with five years' post-qualification experience on a salary of a whopping £40,000. Multinational companies such as Deloitte Touche and Pricewaterhouse Coopers are having bespoke offices built there, generating an increased workload for architects. Some of the top architects' firms are establishing offices in Northern Ireland, with PFI projects and shopping centres further increasing demand.

In Northern Ireland, salaries are massively on the up. In Belfast we recently placed an architect with five years’ experience on a salary of a whopping £40,000

Manchester and north-west England are very busy, with skills shortages across the board. Again there are many vacancies for technicians and qualified architects, and employees are usually very well looked after so they won't be tempted to go elsewhere. Many top architects, such as Atkins and Aedas, are opening or expanding offices in the region. Again salaries are becoming comparable to those in south-east England. Coupled with the cheaper cost of living, this is creating a minor migration up the M6 of long-term London-based workers.

In Edinburgh and Glasgow, nearly all the local firms are recruiting. Office developments and PFI education projects are dominating the central belt of Scotland.

From Northern Ireland to the Midlands, Scotland to the south-west England, architectural professionals are finding that there is enough work to keep them busy for some time to come.