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Survey: London practices plan workforce expansion

A survey of architects in London has found more than half are planning to grow their workforce this year

The survey by recruitment firm Faststream polled 259 employees at London practices who were involved in making hiring decisions.

It found 58 per cent were planning to expand their workforce this year, compared to 49 per cent who grew their number of employees in 2012.

The largest growth areas were residential and commercial which were forecasted at 29 per cent and 22 per cent respectively.

The findings were backed up by the RIBA’s December future trends survey which found architects in the capital were most likely to take on new staff. London practices registered at +4 on the RIBA’s staffing index compared to -3 for the entire country.

The Faststream survey also claimed salaries for architects, architectural assistants and project architects were expected to increase this year - while urban designers were least likely to receive a pay rise.

Around 2 per cent of employers were planning to pay staff less this year with 98 per cent predicting either no change or a rise in pay.

Faststream’s Mark Charman said: ‘In 2012 around 80 per cent of roles that we filled were for employees required to work on residential and commercial schemes and early signs in 2013 leads us to believe that this trend will remain for the year ahead.’

Commenting on the market place for recent graduates, he said:  ‘From our survey we know that 72 per cent of practices believe that universities are producing good, employable graduates for the industry but this is only half the story.

He added: ‘Whilst this may come as a relief to those currently studying architecture disciplines in university, the increased tuition fees have created a sharp fall in applications for architecture related studies. Data published by UCAS in January 2012 showed that applications for architecture courses have fallen 16% compared to last year. This will create a serious lack of new talent coming into the market.’

Despite increased tuition fees the survey found 76 per cent of employers indicated that they would recommend a career in architecture to school leavers. ‘The input of senior figures in the sector at this level could be vital in helping generate talent for the future,’ said Charman.

Lindsay Urquhart of Bespoke Careers said: ‘London is booming. We have had the best February since 2007.’

Both permanent placements and contract appointments were back on the up, said Urquhart.

‘Lots of the big boys are back - large international firms we haven’t worked with for years are calling and hiring. For the first time in years we are seeing candidates being offered two and three positions.’

Commenting on a potential return to sustainable growth, she said: ‘I wouldn’t say the glory days are back quite yet but we’ve seen a significant turn around since Christmas. It’s been a long time coming.’

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