Almost two thirds of architects and architectural technicians in Ireland have been made redundant in the past two years, according to a recent survey.
Recruitment consultant Hays said that, since 2007, 59 per cent of 2,306 surveyed architecture professionals had lost their jobs.
Hays’ survey also revealed that an astonishing 7 per cent of Irish practices had let go 80 per cent of their staff in the last 24 months, while 60 per cent of firms had released nearly half their staff.
An anonymous architect at Traynor O’Toole Architects, which was once 100-strong but has recently ceased trading, believes the true number of redundancies could be even higher: ‘I would have thought [redundancy in] the architecture profession in Ireland is up to about 60-80 per cent.’
Other big-name firms have not avoided the economic meltdown in Ireland either. Foster + Partners’ Dublin office was rumoured to have closed, though a spokesperson for the firm said: ‘The Dublin office is still there but we don’t have anyone working in it just at the moment, as we transferred staff to the London office… We hope to re-staff in due course.’
Hays, which claims to have 1,800 architecture professionals on its books looking for work in Ireland, said it commissioned the survey to bring attention to the ‘very serious damage’ done to the profession during the recession.
‘The architecture profession has been the hardest hit of all.’
‘[The] architecture profession has been the hardest hit of all,’ said Paul O’Donnell, manager of Hays Architecture. ‘There have been massive layoffs and trying to find work as an architect in Ireland now is a thankless task.’
Only six months ago, Irish deputy prime minister Mary Coughlan provoked outrage when she claimed architects in Ireland had yet to feel ‘the chill winds of economic reality’, and said they should slash fees to make the country more competitive.
John Graby, director of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI), tried to put a positive spin on the figures, saying: ‘Being made redundant doesn’t necessarily mean being out of work.’
He added: ‘The number of small practices is probably up 15 or 20 per cent [and] out of our 3,300 members we have only 230 on unemployment benefit rates.’
Meanwhile, the RIAI has set up a programme to make it easier for small practices to become involved in the retrofitting of 1.3 million homes across Ireland.