Number of practices looking to bring in more staff on upward trajectory, new RIBA report finds

Architecture practices are on a recruitment drive despite an increasingly grim outlook for future work, according to a new survey.

RIBA’s latest Future Trends report found the number of practices expecting to hire more permanent staff over the next three months was on a firm upward trajectory, rising to 14% last month, while 77% said they had no plans to cut numbers.

This was despite more than a quarter, 28%, of practices in January expecting workloads to fall in the coming months, up from 25% in December.


Source: Shutterstock

Practices are looking to recruit despite falling confidence in future workloads

Medium and large practices were the most positive about future staffing levels, reporting an index balance of +23. Any number above zero indicates respondents on average are looking to hire.

Small practices, those with less than 10 staff, were more cautious, but still returned a balance of +2.

Hiring intentions also improved across most regions, with London rising to +12, Wales and the West to +13, and the North of England to zero from a negative balance in December.

RIBA head of economic research. and analysis Adrian Malleson said the optimism suggested practices were looking beyond the next three months of falling workload expectations to see brighter times ahead.

“Although recruitment remains challenging, practices are getting themselves ready for the eventual upturn by seeking talent now.,” he said.

But he said RIBA members were still reporting headwinds affecting their workloads, including planning delays, professional indemnity insurance exclusions, labour shortages, and high construction product costs.

“Practices report economic conditions directly affecting current and future workloads, with private clients putting domestic projects on hold due to concerns about their job security, increases in interest rates making previously feasible projects no longer so, and client payment delays hitting cash flow,” he said.

Workload expectations among small practices fell by three index points to -14 in January. While medium and large practices were more positive, expectations of work over the next three months in this group fell from +13 in December to +7.

All construction sectors returned negative figures in the survey, with the community sector falling by 9 points to -13 and the commercial sector falling by 3 to -7.

However, private housing, which has been going through a rocky patch over the past few months after performing strongly in the immediate wake of the covid pandemic, rose five points to -10 in January, while the public sector rose by one point to -9.