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Share of government skills funding must go to architects, says Hodder

RIBA president Stephen Hodder has called for a new £30 million government fund set up to increase the supply of engineers to be extended to architects

Last week the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) announced the taxpayer support, made up of £10 million to ‘improve engineering careers’, £10 million to develop skills in smaller companies and £10 million to develop women engineers. The package is part of the government’s Employer Ownership Fund, set up to help employers overcome skills shortages.

Hodder pointed out that architecture firms face growing skills shortages, adding that women make up only 16 per cent of the profession. He said: ‘This fund should be made available across the construction industry. We have a shortage in all areas of construction, not just engineering. The RIBA has a very considered equality and diversity policy to look at ways to advise practices on the issue of women in architecture such as encouraging practices to offer flexible working arrangements. We need support on these issues.’

New figures revealed by the Office of National Statistics last Wednesday showed the number of architects claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in May fell by almost half year-on-year to 310 people, down from 615 in May 2013 and from a peak of 1,995 in August 2009.

Observers pointed to booming global demand for British architects and warned of a particular shortage of job candidates with experience of delivering projects (read more here).

RIBA director of practice Adrian Dobson said that architects responding to the institute’s monthly RIBA Future Trends survey have reported workloads around 10 per cent above 2013 levels. He said: ‘We are hearing of shortages of BIM-literate staff with project delivery experience, and these candidates are increasingly in demand.’

RIBA Appointments manager Paul Chappell added: ‘There are two to three times the number of jobs coming in compared to last year.’

BIS declined to comment.

Readers' comments (4)

  • J Burden

    Architecture is regarded as an art so it gets sidelined as a 'nice to have'.

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  • Stephen you have my full support in this aim. We need more women architects, more support for them, and more training for practices to reduce the appalling attrition rates. Women architects are not just 'nice to have' they are vital to increase the sustainability of the profession.

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  • It strikes me that the general perception of Government and public alike is that "Engineers" work either on factory floors or alongside them. It will probably surprise BIS, the people behind this initiative that many Engineers (including myself) work in the Construction industry, alongside Architects, prior to the site phase and in an office.

    I agree the Architects role in construction is similarly vital to that of Engineers and more women in the industry can only be a good thing.

    I think as professions we are all to some extent suffering from the misconception that "construction" happens only on site.

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  • J Burden

    I didn't suggest women architects were a 'nice to have'!!
    IMO, the problems women architects face are the same as most working women. Example - childcare costs (It costs me £125 a DAY for nursery care for two preschoolers which requires an income of about £40K a year to break even as it's taken out net earnings!) and if you you are a young architect that has just racked up a £90K debt from seven years of studying it may simply not be feasible to continue an architectural career.

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