RIBA Future Trends Survey results for May 2012

The upward trend for architect’s workloads, which started at the beginning of the year, continues to grow according to the latest results from the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) Future Trends Survey.

The Future Trends Workload Index for architects for May 2012 stands at +13, compared with +2 at the same time last year. Large practices with 51 or more staff are the most optimistic about future workloads, reporting a balance figure of +29. Across the UK, most regions reported encouraging workload forecasts, with the only exceptions being Scotland (0) and Northern Ireland (-14).

Across sectors, housing improved by a single balance point to +16, the commercial sector dropped two points to +4, and the community sector forecast saw a two point rise to -7. The public sector forecast saw a significant advance and now stands at -8, compared to -14 in April 2012.

Speaking about the public sector rise, RIBA Director of Practice, Adrian Dobson said:

'This month’s results may be an indication that public sector workloads are beginning to stabilise now that the initial cuts in public sector capital programmes have filtered through. They may also reflect a growing belief that the Government is going to introduce some new fiscal stimulus, which could include additional expenditure on public sector construction.'

The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index for May 2012 remains stable and is virtually unchanged at -1. In May 2012, 20% of respondents to the survey stated that they had personally been under-employed in the last month. This is the best figure recorded since the RIBA Future Survey began in January 2009 and is further evidence that the economic outlook for architects may be gradually improving.

The latest quarterly data series from the survey has also shown how overall student employment has decreased by 40% since 2008, revealing that the recession has impacted disproportionally upon those architects in the early stages of their careers.


Notes to editors

  • For further press information contact Howard Crosskey in the RIBA Press Office: 020 7307 3761
  • The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) champions better buildings, communities and the environment through architecture and our members
  • Completed by a mix of small, medium and large firms based on a geographically representative sample, the RIBA Future Trends Survey was launched in January 2009 to monitor business and employment trends affecting the architects’ profession
  • The Survey is carried out by the RIBA in partnership with the Fees Bureau. Results of the survey, including a full graphical analysis, are published each month at architecture.com/futuretrends 
  • To participate in the RIBA Future Trends Survey, please contact the RIBA Practice Department on 020 7307 3749 or email practice@riba.org The survey takes approximately five minutes to complete each month, and all returns are independently processed in strict confidence
  • The definition for the workload balance figure is the difference between those expecting more work and those expecting less. A negative figure means more respondents expect less work than those expecting more work. This figure is used to represent the RIBA Future Trends Workload Index, which for May 2012 is +13
  • The definition for the staffing balance figure is the difference between those expecting to employ more permanent staff in the next three months and those expecting to employ fewer. A negative figure means more respondents expect to employ fewer permanent staff. This figure is used to represent the RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index, which for May 2012 is -1