Northern architects predict more work and more staff in next quarter

Manchester: 2 St Peter's Square, by SimpsonHaugh

Source: Daniel Hopkinson

Manchester: 2 St Peter’s Square, by SimpsonHaugh

Confidence levels among architects have shot up, with the north of England and large practices being particularly bullish.

In the latest RIBA Future Trends survey practices in the north returned a Workload Index figure of +46, well ahead of closest contender Wales and the west of England at +28.

London was once again the most cautious region, at +16, closely followed by Scotland. Any score over 0 means practices are predicting rising workloads.

Large practices returned a figure of +80, while practices of 50 staff or fewer were significantly less chipper.

There was growth in all sectors apart from community, with private housing rising to +22 and commercial to +11.

Similarly, the Staffing Index also saw a jump forward in May – the latest month for which figures are available – from +1 to +12.

The staffing forecast for large practices was +80; for medium-sized practices it was +18 and for small practices (1-10 staff) it was +9.

Again, the north of England was most optimistic about taking on more staff in the next quarter, with a balance figure of +23. This contrasts with London practices only on +3.

RIBA executive director Adrian Dobson said it was the northern powerhouse region that remained most upbeat.

He added: “Commentary received from our participating practices continues to suggest a reasonably steady work flow and the overall mood music remains cautiously optimistic, but many practices report fee levels are still under pressure because of the highly competitive market for our services.

“A small number of correspondents report difficulties in recruiting staff, but this does not appear to be a widespread problem at present, suggesting a fairly balanced employment market for salaried architects.”

Practices reported that they are currently employing 12% fewer students (year-out or post-part II) than at the same time last year. It is not clear whether this is a developing trend, or whether it relates to the availability of candidates or caution on the part of employers.