The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Future Trends Survey for January 2012 has revealed that overall confidence concerning future workloads is now reasonably stable. The RIBA Future Trends Workload Index for January 2012 stands at -2 rising significantly from -11 in December 2011.
Large practices (51+ staff) are now more confident about future workloads, returning a balance figure of +20, than medium-sized practices (11 – 50 staff) with a balance figure of 0 and small practices (1 – 10 staff) with a balance figure of -2. This provides further evidence that workloads are reasonably stable, but also that there is no real sign of significant medium-term growth prospects for overall levels of work for architects.
Practices in London are the most optimistic about the future, while those in the north of England and Northern Ireland remain much more pessimistic about future prospects.
The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index for January 2012 is -7 compared to -5 in December 2011. Employment levels continue to remain subdued; however, it is clear that overall staffing levels have stabilised with practices reporting that permanent staffing numbers remain unchanged from last year.
Adrian Dobson, RIBA Director of Practice, said:
'RIBA practices continue to report a high degree of uncertainty about future workloads and on-going intense fee competition; many remain concerned about fair access to public procurement, with the use of frameworks and turnover thresholds seen as a significant barrier to bidding for publically-funded work for many practices.
Whilst funding for some major public sector infrastructure projects is being maintained, cuts to mainstream housing, education and health programmes, areas which potentially have a more immediate social and economic benefit appear to be much more extensive. Many RIBA practices continue to question whether a better balance could be struck in terms of current Government capital investment.'