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RIBA report: Practices struggling to find experienced staff

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Practices are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit experienced staff, according to the latest RIBA Future Trends survey

The institute’s monthly audit of the profession reveals that booming workloads, which have increased by 8 per cent over the last 18 months, is causing problems for practices on the hunt for skilled employees.

Reflecting the workload forecast figures, medium and large-sized practices continue to be more confident about their ability to sustain higher staffing levels, but practices with less than ten staff are significantly more cautious about taking on additional new staff at the present time.

Director of practice Adrian Dobson, said: ‘Anecdotal commentary received continues to suggest a continuing strengthening of the market for architects’ services.

‘Although we are not yet recording a dramatic increase in overall staffing levels, we are seeing evidence of some practices encountering difficulties in attracting new staff with the right mix of skills and experience.’

He added: ‘We have seen a steady decrease in the number of our respondents reporting that they had personally been under-employed in the last month, and this suggests that most of the spare capacity retained within the profession during the recession is now being productively employed. We therefore anticipate more substantial growth in overall employment levels in 2015.’

Despite these increased workloads, the total value of work in progress remains 25 per cent below its pre-recessionary peak.

The RIBA Future Trends Workload Index – the difference between those expecting more work in the next three months and those expecting less – has remained at +29.

The private housing sector remains the most buoyant with an index figure of +33 – up from +25 in December. The commercial sector is also positive with an index of +13.

Both the public sector workload forecast (+6) and the community sector workload forecast (+3) saw little change this month.

The outlook for public and third-sector work currently appears to be for stable workloads but without any dramatic increase in levels of activity in the medium term.

Dobson added: ‘This month’s results present a slightly mixed picture; however, uncertainty around the imminent General Election is probably contributing to practices being more circumspect about future workload levels in the public and third-sector work.’

Previous story (AJ 22.01.15)

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