The RIBA Future Trends Workload Index set a new high in January at +36, putting the growth trend seen clearly during the second half of 2013 back on track. The headline indicator rose from +30 recorded at the close of last year.
Only 8% of the practices surveyed expect workload to reduce over the next quarter, while nearly half expect it to increase.
'It’s heartening that all of the UK nations and regions are now returning very positive balance figures for future workload forecasts. The improvement in sentiment is clearly no longer restricted to London and the South, but is much more widespread,’ says RIBA Director of Practice Adrian Dobson.
Current growth is largely being driven by a widespread strengthening of the private housing sector across the UK and a pick-up in commercial projects in London, the South of England, the Midlands and East Anglia.'
Actual work in progress, an indicator that tends to lag behind any rise in confidence, was also up 6% on a year-on-year basis, the second successive quarterly increase recorded.
All key sectors saw improving confidence levels in January.
The private housing sector workload forecast remains the most buoyant, increasing to +35 in January from +31 the previous month. The commercial sector workload forecast rose to +15, up four points. The community sector forecast also saw a solid increase to +10 in January from +4 in December.
The public sector forecast stood at +4, suggesting that while activity remains depressed, there is some stability returning to the pipeline.
The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index was unchanged at +6 in January, with the majority of practices expecting their staffing levels to stay the same during the next quarter. Medium-sized practices (11–50 staff) were distinctly more optimistic than average, returning a balance figure of +21.
However there are signs that salaries could finally be on the move.
'After a number of years of static salaries, for people with the right experience 2014 may well be a more positive year,’ says Dobson.
'Paul Chappell, of RIBA Appointments reports that he has noticed a very strong start to recruitment in 2014. This has resulted in an 89% increase in the number of architectural jobs advertised on RIBA Appointments during January compared to last year. In particular demand are experienced Part 2 Assistants and recently qualified Architects who have taken UK projects from start through to completion.'
Posted on Thursday 27th February 2014