Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) this week show that nearly 5 per cent of architects are now unemployed
According to the ONS, 1,490 architects are now claiming unemployment benefit.
But Brian Waters, president of the Association of Consultant Architects, said the figures are just the tip of the iceberg. ‘The feedback we are getting is that the situation is much more serious,’ said Waters. ‘It massively underestimates the problem.’
Waters suggested a time lag between lay-offs and the claiming of benefit was the reason the figure was not even higher.
But Delwar Hossain of Adrem Recruitment argued that the figures could be inaccurate. ‘Lots of Part 2s and 3s are being counted as architects. Using these figures, you can manipulate statistics.’
Hossain added that highlighting the plight of the profession could weaken the position of architects bidding for work. ‘It is doing lots of damage, as it is used as ammunition by developers to negotiate fees and tougher rates,’ he said.
The latest unemployment figures (March 2009) mark an 861 per cent increase from this time last year, when just 155 architects were claiming, and show a 15 per cent jump from the 1,290 architects officially unemployed in February 2009.
Architects are currently the worst-affected built environment professionals, faring worse than town planners, quantity surveyors and construction managers.