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Survey forecasts tougher times ahead for architects
Jul 16, 2010

Architects are set to face much tougher prospects for procuring work, according to data from the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) monthly Future Trends Survey.
The June 2010 results of the survey, set up by the RIBA in January 2009 to monitor business and employment trends affecting the architecture profession, highlighted that practices predicted a further drop in their future workload over the next three months, particularly with public sector projects.
The number of practices expecting workload to decrease rose by 3% (25% predicting a decrease in June, and 22% in May). There continues to be little evidence of a recovery in employment prospects for salaried architects, with employment levels expected stay constant at 15%, compared to 16% in May and 11% in April. 4% fewer respondents also stated that they were personally underemployed in June (25% in June, compared to 29% in May).
The survey also revealed practices to be markedly less optimistic about forecasted workload predictions across the public and commercial sectors; 38% of practices expected a decrease in future public sector workload, compared with just 25% in May. 19% of firms expected commercial sector work to decrease; a 6% increase on May’s forecast of 13%. The only sector to fare better was private housing, with a small increase in the number of firms expecting more work (26% in June, compared to 22% in May).
The statistical analysis of the survey enables the RIBA to regularly report on two key confidence tracking indices relating to future workloads and staffing levels. For June 2010, the RIBA Future Trends Workload Index is +2 (compared to +4 in May 2010) and the RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index is -8 (compared to -9 in May 2010).
“It is no surprise, given recent announcements from the Government on future capital spending plans, that predictions for future public sector workloads have declined sharply this month, falling to -29 in June 2010 compared with -13 in May 2010," said Adrian Dobson, RIBA Director of Practice.
"It is disquieting that confidence about growth in the commercial sector also appears to be losing some momentum, with the balance figure this month falling to +2 from +7 in May 2010. If this trend were to continue it would raise serious concerns about the capacity for commercial sector growth to make up for reductions in the public sector building programme. Private housing remains the most robust of our sector predictions, with a workload forecast figure of +14, bouncing back from a slight dip last month.
"Commentary submitted by our respondents this month focuses on a number of common themes, including intense fee competition, delays in the release of development funding from banks, late payment of fees and delays in the planning application system. Several practices report redundancy programmes, and others have had to impose further pay cuts and short time working.”

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