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Architects remain uncertain while unemployment continues to fall

Architecture practices are still uncertain about the sector’s prospects, but government statistics show unemployment among architects is continuing to fall

The number of practices expecting workloads to increase fell back to January levels from 32 per cent in February to 27 per cent in March, according to RIBA’s monthly Future Trends survey. But those practices expecting workloads to drop also fell to 19 per cent, down from 25 per cent in February.

Employment prospects for salaried architects rose by 1 per cent, with 8 per cent of architects expecting an increase in staff in March. The number of practices expecting staff levels to drop also fell from 15 per in February to 12 per cent in March.

The figures reflect data from the Office of National Statistics which shows a long term trend of gradually falling unemployment in the sector.

Unemployment hit a peak of more than 2000 seeking work in August 2009, but has fallen since then. The figure rose again slightly last summer but has now fallen to its lowest level since January 2009, at just over 1000.

Adrian Dobson, RIBA director of practice, said the picture differs across the country:  ‘Evidence of a north-south divide in confidence levels about future workloads continues to grow, with practices in London and the South East now significantly more confident about their work prospects than those in the North of England, Northern Ireland and Scotland.’

But he pointed to practices looking to broaden their services to boost prospects. He said: ‘A number of contributors are adapting their business models to encompass a broader range of services, including community engagement, acting as expert consultants and undertaking research projects.’

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