Percentage of staff under-employed now at lowest level since RIBA survey began

Practices are still struggling to fill roles to help them cope with new work, the RIBA has warned.

In the summer, the RIBA said it had noticed the first signs that the UK’s economic recovery was putting pressure on firms to find staff.

Now in its latest Future Trends survey, it said those worries had deepened for many firms.

Its director of practice Adrian Dobson (pictured) said: “We are beginning to see the first real evidence of practices encountering difficulties in attracting new staff with the right mix of skills and experience. This seems to be a countrywide phenomenon and not particularly confined to specific geographical locations.”

The percentage of the survey’s respondents reporting that they had personally been under-employed in the last month was 12% – the lowest level since the RIBA began its monthly report back in January 2009. This week, ONS statistics said the number of architects on the dole had fallen below the 200 barrier for the first time since summer 2008.

The survey also said that confidence in the North of England and Northern Ireland had caught up with the rest of the UK.

But the skills gap is still not seeing those in work being rewarded with pay rises, Dobson added.

He said: “At the present time, profit margins remain tight for many practices as a legacy of the long recession which inevitably depressed fee levels. This is clearly constraining the capacity of practices to increase salary offers.”

The overall workload index fell back in November to +29 from +37 the month before. The highest figure recorded for this year so far was the +41 notched up in February.

Medium and large practices remain more optimistic about future work than their smaller rivals with private housing and commercial still the twin drivers of growth.

But few have much confidence about the public sector, with the score here coming in at just +3.