RIBA Future Trends Survey Results for March 2015 show greater stability in market for architects

  • Staffing levels recover from temporary setback in February 2015

  • Private housing and commercial sectors remain strong

  • Uncertainty remains in public sector, despite overall increase in the workload forecast

The RIBA Future Trends Workload Index bounced back strongly this month, rising to +36 in March 2015 compared with +26 in February 2015. Practices based in London (balance figure +42) and the South of England (+39) were the most confident about medium-term workloads, though workload forecast balance figures remain positive across the United Kingdom.

The March 2015 workload forecast increased across all four sectors. The private housing sector forecast remains the most positive, standing at +34 in March 2015 (from +27 in February 2015). The commercial sector workload forecast increased to +19 in March 2015 (from +15 in February 2015). Annualised, the combined workload across these two sectors continues to rise at a rate of approximately 8% per annum.

The community sector forecast also experienced a healthy uplift, from +5 in February 2015 to +9 in March 2015. Meanwhile, the public sector workload remains the poorest performer in the monthly sector forecasts, despite an increase to +5 in March 2015 (up from +1 in February 2015).

The Future Trends Staffing Index rose strongly from its temporary setback last month, standing at +16 in March 2015 (up from +9 in February 2015). Large practices (balance figure +63) are currently the most confident about their ability to sustain higher staffing levels in the medium term, closely followed by medium-sized practices (balance figure +56). Small practices are more circumspect, with a balance figure of +11. Overall, just 12% of individuals reported that they had personally been under-employed in the last month.

RIBA Director of Practice Adrian Dobson said:

‘This is a striking indication of greater stability on the employment market for salaried architects, with only 2 per cent of respondents expecting to have fewer permanent staff in three months’ time. We are also seeing a greater number of practices expecting an increase in temporary staff over the medium term. This highlights that there is more certainty about the new project pipeline.’

‘With a combined annualised increase of 8 per cent per annum, the private housing sector and commercial sector appear to be the primary drivers for the overall increase in the workload forecast.’

‘However, respondents continue to suggest that overly complex procurement practices have reduced involvement in public sector work. This is in the context of uncertainty around future levels of public sector spending on buildings.’


Notes to editors:

1. For further press information contact Callum Reilly in the RIBA Press Office: 020 7307 3757

2. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) champions better buildings, communities and the environment through architecture and our members. Follow us on Twitter for regular RIBA updates

3. 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.

4. The Future Trends 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:

5. To participate in the RIBA Future Trends Survey, please contact the RIBA Practice Department on 020 7307 3749 or email The survey takes approximately five minutes to complete each month, and all returns are independently processed in strict confidence

6. 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 March 2015 was +36

7. 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 March 2015 was +16


Posted on Tuesday 28th April 2015

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