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AJ100 practices shed fewer jobs

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The number of UK architects employed by the country’s top 100 practices continues to fall – but the rate of decline has slowed significantly, according to the 2011 AJ100 survey results

The practices appearing in the last two years’ AJ100 rankings employ almost 1,000 fewer UK-based architects than they did two years ago. However only 200 of these jobs were shed during the past year.

Bruce Tether of Imperial College London, who analyses the AJ100 survey results, said: ‘While the industry is still contracting, it is now contracting less quickly than before’.

The top 20 practices now employ 2,648 architects between them. This is a small decrease from the 2,832 employed in 2010, compared with a drop of 600 from the 3,433 high in 2009.

Delwar Hossain, managing director of recruitment consultancy Adrem, said: ‘The period between 2009 to 2010 was a horrendous time for architects, but these figures back up what we’ve found. Architects should be positive… the rate of change has massively declined. A lot of practices would love to hire but they are still being cautious.’

The RIBA’s Richard Brindley said: ‘This is exactly what we’re picking up from our ‘Future Trends’ survey. Employment is still falling but the rate of decline seems to be bottoming out.’

The smallest practice in the AJ100 employs 22 qualified architects in this year’s survey, a fall from a peak of 30 architects in 2008, but this is higher than the 20 needed to enter the top 100 in 2001 (see graph above), showing practices are still bigger than a decade ago.

The number of architects working overseas among the AJ100 firms is 5,799, almost the same number employed in the UK, despite the survey revealing a fall in overseas fees of 18 per cent.

The results of the AJ100 survey will be published online and in the AJ on 19 May.

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