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Architects predict looming job cuts, says RIBA

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Architects expect job cuts before Christmas as workloads continue to fall, according to research by the Royal Institute of British Architects

The RIBA Future Trends Survey for September 2011 found that more practices expected work levels to fall in the next three months than expected them to rise. The survey gave a workload balance figure of -10, compared to a more positive outlook of +2 in August.

The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index also fell, from -3 in August to -7 in September, indicating an overall expectation of staff cuts over the next quarter. This is particularly predicted to hit small and medium-sized practices.

Large practices – those with more than 51 staff – felt more likely to increase permanent staffing levels than smaller practices.

RIBA director of practice Adrian Dobson said: ‘The September results for the Future Trends Survey clearly show that confidence about future workloads overall over the next quarter for UK architects remains fragile, although large practices remain relatively more confident, particularly in the commercial sector, than small and medium-sized practices.’

He added: ‘Although overall demand for architects’ services continues to be very weak in some sectors, anecdotal evidence from the survey suggests that niche markets such as high-end bespoke housing, conservation works and certain healthcare sectors remain resilient.’

With government cuts hitting hard, public sector work is expected to be the most affected, recording a balance of -24.The housing work balance was -6, while commercial was -5.

Practices based in the South of England were the least pessimistic, with those in Northern Ireland, and Wales and the West, the most pessimistic.

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