By continuing to use the site you agree to our Privacy & Cookies policy

Your browser seems to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser.

Close

Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Close

RIBA and Archaos demand minimum pay for working students

The RIBA and Archaos, the national architecture student society, is calling on the profession to introduce minimum pay and conditions for the employment of students.

Among their demands in a joint paper (attached right) to be published on the Professional Education and Development Resource (PEDR) website is a minimum wage for post-Part 1 students of £8.56 an hour, rising to £10.27 an hour for work in central London.

The student society is urging the profession to commit to its conditions as part of the chartered practice accreditation scheme, claiming the existing non-mandatory guidance on fair pay and conditions does not go far enough to protect working students.

Archaos chairman Caine Crawford said: ‘Practices, and students themselves, should value the contribution they make and they should be paid accordingly. Any practice that doesn’t see value in employing a student shouldn’t do it.’ He added: ‘The value of the post-Part 1 year-out experience should be seen as greater than the few lines written on a PEDR log book, especially as the experience gained is likely to be repeated post-Part 2.’

The move re-opens the debate about whether architect students should work for free, triggered in May by the AJ’s State of Architectural Education survey. The survey showed that 46 per cent of those seeking placements this summer would not demand payment, while two-thirds had yet to find work experience.

The Association of Professional Studies Advisors has released its own guidance for year-out students, which discourages working for free and suggests students find equally valuable experience outside of the profession if they cannot find paid work within it.

But David Lumb, of Leeds-based Architecture 519, who is trying to set up an unpaid internship system said: ‘The establishment of a minimum wage should be part of the basic rules, but it must recognise the reality of the current very difficult employment market, where there are many unemployed architects and graduates.

‘Even the vast majority of those who remain employed, at all levels, have had to accept significantly reduced levels of remuneration.’

He added: ‘Simply setting a minimum wage will do nothing to change this situation nor create opportunities for graduates to further their education. Flexibility will have to be maintained as long as there are more graduates than jobs

This year has proven to be the most challenging for the architecture profession in a generation. As a result, this year’s graduates are entering an extremely difficult employment market. The RIBA expresses serious concern about the reports it is receiving of students being asked to undertake fee-earning work for a practice on an “internship” or similar basis, without payment, in order to complete their professional experience. 

RIBA Chartered Practices are required to operate employment policies which follow the principles of the RIBA Employment Policy, which includes a commitment to employing students in accordance with the good practice guidance on the PEDR website. In relation to payment the good practice guidance includes recommended minimum rates of pay which were adopted by the RIBA in accordance with proposals made by ARCHAOS, the architectural student association, in 2000. 

It is recognised that there are significant competitive pressures in the current architectural market, but the RIBA Chartered Practice scheme is a mark of quality for clients, and brings with it an expectation that projects will be adequately resourced and that staff working on projects will be professionally qualified, motivated and rewarded.

Postscript

RIBA president Ruth Reed discusses the issues of working for free

This year has proven to be the most challenging for the architecture profession in a generation. As a result, this year’s graduates are entering an extremely difficult employment market. The RIBA expresses serious concern about the reports it is receiving of students being asked to undertake fee-earning work for a practice on an “internship” or similar basis, without payment, in order to complete their professional experience. 

RIBA Chartered Practices are required to operate employment policies which follow the principles of the RIBA Employment Policy, which includes a commitment to employing students in accordance with the good practice guidance on the PEDR website. In relation to payment the good practice guidance includes recommended minimum rates of pay which were adopted by the RIBA in accordance with proposals made by ARCHAOS, the architectural student association, in 2000. 

It is recognised that there are significant competitive pressures in the current architectural market, but the RIBA Chartered Practice scheme is a mark of quality for clients, and brings with it an expectation that projects will be adequately resourced and that staff working on projects will be professionally qualified, motivated and rewarded.

The RIBA recently launched the host practice scheme, which enables student members and graduates to access a national online network of practices and universities interested in hosting students in their offices.  These students will have the opportunity to utilise the practice’s facilities to work on entries for competitions, private commissions and research, as well as being offered an overview of practice activities. These are not internships and students should be paid for any fee-earning work they undertake for the practice.

The RIBA validated UK schools of architecture are known throughout the world for the quality of their courses, and the intellectual capacity and creativity of their students. The UK architecture profession benefits beyond measure from the energy and skills which they contribute to our industry during their practical training periods. 

Readers' comments (2)

  • Nice idea. But it won't work. And practices have got enough to deal with. If students (for whatever reason) want to work for free - let 'em.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • I'm a student and yes it is very difficult trying to find a job with an architecture firm that are looking to take on. However, at the end of the day if my only way of gaining work experience is unpaid I will have to take that offer. In the short term it may be hard but hopefully in the long run, the decision should pay off.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment.

Related Jobs

Sign in to see the latest jobs relevant to you!

The searchable digital buildings archive with drawings from more than 1,500 projects

AJ newsletters