Future Trends for April 2015: growing confidence in staff demand

  • Staffing levels in the first quarter of 2015 are 6% higher than the 2014 equivalent
  • Medium-sized practices are the most optimistic about future staffing
  • However, practices expect a decline in both public and community sector workloads

The RIBA Future Trends Workload Index was unchanged in April 2015, remaining at +35. Practices in London and the South of England are still the most confident about medium-term workloads; workload forecasts remain positive throughout the UK.

Small practices (1–10 staff) are still positive about the outlook for future workloads (balance figure of +29); medium-sized practices (11–50 staff) and large-sized practices (51+ staff) continue to be even more optimistic about future growth (+74 and +75 respectively). 

In terms of different work sectors, the private housing sector workload forecast increased this month (rising to +38) and remains the best performing of the sector forecasts. The commercial sector workload forecast fell slightly to +15, eliminating the previous month’s rise.

The public sector forecast also decreased this month, down to +3. The community sector forecast experienced a significant decline, down to -3 in April 2015 from +9 in March 2015, entering negative territory for the first time since April 2013.

The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index continued its recent upward trend, rising to +18. Only 1% of participating practices anticipate that they will be employing fewer permanent staff in three months’ time.

Following a period in which larger practices have been the most positive about future staffing levels, in April 2015, medium-sized practices emerged as the most confident (balance figure +48). For large practices, the balance figure stands at +25, while small practices remain more circumspect at +14.

Each quarter, practices are asked about their permanent staffing levels. Current staffing levels are 6% higher than in the equivalent quarter in 2014. 13% of our respondents reported that they had personally been under-employed in the last month.

RIBA Director of Practice Adrian Dobson said:

‘The overall picture is still one in which confidence levels amongst architects about future workloads are high. The rising Future Trends Staffing Index indicates a strong feeling that the current market for architectural services is stable or growing for the vast majority of practices.

‘However, there remains widespread reporting of intense fee competition in many sectors, along with tight profit margins. The decline in the community sector forecast is somewhat disappointing, while the fall in the public sector forecast may reflect on-going uncertainty about future public sector capital spending.’


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.

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 April 2015 was +35

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 April 2015 was +18


Posted on Thursday 28th May 2015

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