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RIBA: Architects face ‘challenging and unpredictable’ future

Architects are facing stiffer competition for public sector work and banks remain reluctant to lend for development projects, according to the latest RIBA future trends survey

The survey’s October results show little change in architects’ hope for future workloads, with practices in Scotland and Northern Ireland least optimistic about new jobs. London studios were most hopefulc about growth in workloads over the next three months.

A third of architects responding to the survey reported being personally under-employed during October, a slightly higher percentage than the previous month.   

RIBA director of practice Adrian Dobson said: ‘Not unexpectedly, practices continue to describe a challenging and unpredictable state of play, with increased competition for falling levels of public sector work and continuing resistance by banks to lend for development projects. Faced with this uncertain outlook, they are reluctant to recruit new staff.

‘But on a more positive note, the bespoke housing sector remains strong, buoyed by all-time low interest rates, and more specialised areas within healthcare and conservation also continue to perform well.’

The survey uses statistical analysis to track two key indices of confidence within the profession: future workloads and staffing levels.

The RIBA future trends workload index increased slightly to -7 in October, compared with -10 in September 2011.

The future trends staffing Index also barely changed: down from -7 in September to -8 in October. Intriguingly, despite recent headlines about rising unemployment nationally, the number of architects claiming benefits actually dropped from 1,135 in September to 1,020 in October.

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