Trade body’s latest Future Trends survey shows drop in architects’ confidence as year continues

Architects are expecting their workloads to decline, redundancies to increase, and public sector work to decrease, according to a survey carried out by the RIBA.

The RIBA is tracking the confidence of the sector through monthly surveys, and the February results indicate a drop in confidence as the recession worsens.

Almost half of all respondents in February (46%) expected their workloads to decline over the next three months, compared to 39% last month. Only 16% predicted an increase in work, and in the commercial sector over half (52%) said their workload would drop off in the next three months.

Almost two-thirds (62%) of those polled expected their staff numbers to stay the same, a drop from the 72% of respondents who said the same in January. More than a third (35%) now say they expect job cuts in the next three months, up from the 24% who predicted the same in January.

Confidence in public sector work has fallen since last month, with only one in five respondents predicting an increase in public sector and PFI work, compared to 27% in January.

However, the outlook of smaller architects appears to have brightened, with only a third saying they were likely to be underemployed in the next three months, down from 47% in January.

Adrian Dobson, RIBA director of practice, said: “The latest results from the RIBA Future Trends survey paint a picture of an architects’ profession which is now very cautious about future workloads. While public sector work was forecast to be stronger than in the housing and commercial sectors, the practices in our survey are no longer predicting an overall increase in public sector workload for architects, perhaps reflecting a perception that the government is struggling to accelerate the various major public sector capital programmes.”