End of year bounce for architects in latest RIBA Future Trends Survey

The RIBA Future Trends Workload Index increased significantly in November, rising to +27 (up from +18 in October); this suggests that confidence levels within the profession have stabilised towards the end of the year. All nations and regions in the UK returned positive balance figures.

Large practices (51+ staff) remain the most positive about future prospects (balance figure +100), compared with medium-sized (11–50 staff, balance figure +32) and small practices (1–10 staff, balance figure +24).

By far the most robust of the sector forecasts throughout 2015, the private housing sector forecast was unchanged in November (+25). The public sector and community sector workload forecasts were also unchanged (balance figures –3 and +3 respectively); the commercial sector workload forecast increased to +14 in November (from +7 in October).

The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index also recovered lost ground, rising to +14 in November (up from +9 in October). Only 2 per cent of practices expect to have fewer staff at the end of the next quarter.

Large practices continue to be more confident about increasing staff numbers (balance figure of +50) compared with either small (+10) or medium-sized practices (+33).

RIBA Executive Director Members Adrian Dobson said:

“Commentary from our participating practices is generally upbeat as we look ahead to 2016. We have seen further evidence of increases in fee levels, as well as confirmation that practices are finding it is taking more time to recruit new staff with appropriate skills while the employment market continues to improve. A few practices sound a note of caution that increases in construction tender prices are leading some clients to question the viability of projects moving into the construction phase.”