Economic turmoil in Northern Ireland has seen a number of architecture companies let four-fifths of their workforces go, new research has revealed
According to Hays Recruitment, the economic downturn of the past four years has seen around six per cent of studios in the region shed 80 per cent of staff.
The company surveyed 134 Northern Ireland practices, of which well over half confirmed they had been forced to reduce overheads in the period.
Close to a fifth of surveyed studios had made redundancies of 60 per cent, according to the report, while a third of companies had made redundancies of 40 per cent.
Hays warned that ‘ad hoc spending cuts’ could damage studios’ reputations and ‘demoralise’ employees but said more government investment in the housing, education and healthcare sectors would boost activity.
John Moore, director at Hays in Northern Ireland told said: ‘Many employers we spoke to referred to the traumatic and emotional experience of having to downsize so rapidly.
‘This reflects not only the sheer numbers involved, but also the nature of the profession - most practices are close-knit.
‘Enforced redundancies in this “community” can be very difficult to deal with. It is vitally important that measures are quickly taken to address the situation and create a sustainable future one of our most prestigious, learned professions.’
He added: ‘It’s certainly the worst we’ve seen since the mid nineties. Things are tight because Northern Ireland has a stronger reliance on public works than other parts of the UK. Whereas Northern Ireland contractors have picked up work in Great Britain, it’s not the same for designers.’
Norman Hutchinson, president of the Royal Society of Ulster Architects said: ‘Northern Ireland appears to be one of the hardest hit areas of the UK in the current recession in the construction industry and this is reflected in the architectural profession with many job redundancies. It is no secret that Government spending on construction here is drastically cut back and house- building is very static.
‘However architects have been very resourceful in seeking out new work, in moving to find work and in re-training to enter other work–related areas. Some good projects are going ahead but there is a great shortage of new schemes in architects offices. We hope that Government will act to re-vitalise this sector otherwise job losses will continue.’