But pre-election question mark still hangs over public-sector work

RIBA headquarters, 66 Portland Place

RIBA HQ. Source: Creative Commons/ Cmglee

Architects are increasingly confident about the strength of their work pipelines according to the RIBA’s latest Future Trends survey.

The Workload Index barometer rose from +26 in February to +36 in March, with practices in London and the south of England most confident about their medium-term workloads.

Sector by sector, private housing was the most positive area of work for the index’s four categories, with its confidence rating standing at +34 in March, up from +27 in February. Commercial sector confidence rose from +15 to +19 over the same period.

The RIBA said the combined workload from both sectors was currently rising at a rate of around 8% a year.

Public-sector work was the poorest performer. However confidence rose from +1 to +5 between February and March.

The Future Trends Staffing Index, meanwhile, rose to +16 in March, up from +9 the previous month. Large practices were most confident about their ability to sustain higher staffing levels in the medium term, closely followed by medium-sized practices. Small practices were more circumspect. Overall, just 12% of individuals reported that they had personally been under-employed in the last month.

RIBA director of practice Adrian Dobson said the staffing figures were a “striking indication” of greater stability in the employment market for salaried architects.

“Only 2% of respondents [expect] to have fewer permanent staff in three months’ time,” he said.

“We are also seeing a greater number of practices expecting an increase in temporary staff over the medium term. This highlights that there is more certainty about the new-project pipeline.

“The private housing sector and commercial sector appear to be the primary drivers for the overall increase in the workload forecast.”

Dobson added that survey responses continued to suggest that uncertainty around future levels of public-sector spending on public projects was being exacerbated by overly complex procurement practices.