Value of architects work in progress up but caution remains

Value of work in progress up but caution remains as RIBA Future Trends workload index dips in October.

  • Value of work in progress 4 per cent higher than the same quarter in 2014
  • Architecture profession in positive territory despite dip in workload and staffing indices

The RIBA Future Trends Workload Index fell a little further in October 2015, standing at +18 (down from +21 in September). This suggests that practices are now more cautious than they were during 2014 and the first part of 2015.

All nations and regions in the UK nonetheless returned positive balance figures. In October 2015, practices in Northern Ireland (balance figure +25) were most optimistic about medium term workload growth; in the Midlands and East Anglia (balance figure +12) there is a greater sense of a temporary peak being reached.

Large practices (51+ staff, balance figure +57) are significantly more optimistic about future prospects than either medium-sized (11–50 staff, balance figure +17) or small practices (1–10 staff, balance figure +16).

The private housing sector workload forecast rebounded further in October, rising to +25 (up from +21 in September). The community sector forecast also saw a modest rise, standing at +3 (up from +1 in September). Meanwhile, the commercial sector workload forecast fell to +7 (down from +13 in September); the public sector workload forecast was unchanged at –3.

The survey also showed that the value of work in progress is 4 per cent higher than in the same quarter in 2014.

The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index fell back somewhat this month to +9 (down from +12 in September). Nevertheless the Staffing Index remains in positive territory. Large practices (balance figure +29) were more optimistic about future staffing levels, compared with medium-sized (balance figure +4) and small practices (balance figure +9).

Participating practices report that they are now employing 3 per cent more staff than this time last year.

RIBA Executive Director Members Adrian Dobson said:

“The market for architectural services remains buoyant, but with a clear sense that there has been something of a slowdown in the overall pace of growth in the last few months.”

“The 4 per cent increase in the value of work in progress, compared with the equivalent quarter in 2014, shows a continuing very healthy rate of annual growth. This is nevertheless a step down from the rates of 8–10 per cent that we saw consistently throughout 2014 and early 2015, and shows some cooling in the overall market for architectural services.”

“Mirroring the trend in the Workplace Index, the RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index also declined this month; our practices are now sounding something of a note of caution about future staffing levels. Still, there continues to be plenty of anecdotal evidence of practices having difficulties recruiting staff with the levels of skills and experience that they are looking for.”