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Optimism growing says RIBA Future Trends survey

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Architects are expecting more work in public and private housing and commercial sectors, according to the latest figures from the RIBA’s profession-wide confidence tracker

The institute’s latest Future Trends Survey revealed that 39 per cent of practices predicted an increase in workload in November – an 8 per cent increase from October.

For the first time since the survey was launched in February this year, workload predictions in all surveyed sectors improved. The most noteworthy growth in confidence was in private housing where 36 per cent of practices expected housing work to increase, compared with just 28 per cent in October.

There were also minimal improvements in the public and commercial sectors with 20 per cent of practices expecting an increase in office and retail work in November, compared with 19 per cent in October. Similarly, 19 per cent of practices looked forward to an increase in public sector work in November, compared with 18 per cent in October.

Commenting on the findings, Adrian Dobson, RIBA director of practice said: ‘This month’s figures paint a picture of cautious optimism among architects’ practices for some increase in overall workloads in the short to medium term, and suggesting that workloads have at the very least stabilised.

‘For the first time since the survey began it is the larger practices – initially most heavily impacted by the recession – that are now most confident about an increase in future workloads. [Two] thirds of our practices who employ more than 50 staff are predicting more work in progress by the end of the next quarter.’

According to the survey, practices based in London and the South of England were the most optimistic about future workloads, while outfits in Scotland and Northern Ireland are significantly more pessimistic in their assessment of future prospects. 

In terms of recruitment and redundancies, 10 per cent of practices predicted an increase in staff – a 3 per cent rise on the 7 per cent in October and double the 5 per cent in September. Encouragingly, those expecting a decrease dropped from 13 per cent to 11 per cent.

Describing the ongoing difficulties facing students looking for placements and work, Dobson added: ‘This month we again asked our practices about how many students (year-out and post Part II) they are currently employing as compared with 12 months ago. The overall mean of 54 per cent illustrates just how dramatically this group is being impacted by the recession.’

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