The number of architects claiming unemployment benefit has fallen for the eighth month in a row, despite the overall number out-of-work people in the UK having risen to its highest levels since 1994
According to the Office of National Statistics, there are now 1,230 architects on the dole queue compared to 1,305 in April. The figure is nearly half that recorded ‘at the peak of the recession’ in August 2009 when more than 2,055 architects were claiming benefits.
Meanwhile recruitment agencies are reporting a boom in the number of temporary or fixed term positions on their books as practices look to fill a growing number of vacancies on a short term basis.
Lindsay Urquhart, the managing director of Bespoke Careers said: ‘Lots of practices which historically haven’t used agencies are coming to us for contract staff because they don’t want to commit to permanent contracts.
‘We’ve now got more than four times the number of architects in temporary contracts than we had at Christmas. The uncertainly prior to the election did seem to slightly put the brakes on the number of permanent positions we were finding for people but May looks pretty healthy so we’re fairly positive.’
She concluded: ‘Generally things are getting better month on month.’
Nationally the number of unemployed people rose by 53,000 to 2.51 million during the three months to March with the unemployment total at its highest level since December 1994.
Jonathan Bramley of Keyworth-based Bramley-Maye Design added: ‘These figures may not show an accurate number of architects who are unemployed - just those that are claiming Jobseekers Allowance (JSA).
‘For the six months you can claim national insurance-based JSA but after then you may not be entitled to an allowance depending on your savings. It is likely those architects who are not entitled to an allowance will not then pursue a claim (i.e. sign on) as there is no financial benefit.
‘[In addition] while the market for architectural employment is improving, from my experience this is very regional. There have been very few jobs on offer in the East Midlands and in particular in Nottingham, while London and the South East always has a large number of jobs available.’