Survey shows growing number of unfilled posts and expected staff turnovers of 100% by 2013

Architects are on the brink of a staffing crisis that will only be addressed if they are added to the Home Office skills shortage list, a national body for the profession has warned

A survey by the Association of Consultant Architects (ACA), which represents UK architectural practices, has shown that posts are being left unfilled for almost six months on average, and sometimes up to 18 months.

More than 80% of the respondents said it took them three months to fill a position, with the average at 10 weeks.

On average, practices spent £130,785 on recruitment last year, with one firm spending £694,000

Over the next five years, an average of 72 people will leave each firm, it is estimated. As the average size of the practices surveyed was 54, this means many are expecting a 100% turnover in staff by 2013

Just under a quarter, 24.9%, of staff in architectural firms are from outside the UK and 21.5% are from outside the EU. The survey found 68.3% of overseas staff had experienced difficulties with visa renewals

Among the 21 practices that responded to the survey were Building Design Partnership, Allies and Morrison, RMJM Architects and Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates. Together the 21 firms employ 1,135 people.

Paul Davis, the ACA council officer, said: “For a country trying to be a world hub for design excellence, it doesn’t bode well that architects are finding it hard to find good, permanent staff.”

The ACA launched a campaign last year to get architects included on the Home Office’s list of professions facing a skills shortage.  This would make it easier for firms to hire people from abroad.