The RIBA’s monthly Future Trends Survey was launched in January 2009 to
monitor business and employment trends affecting the architects’ profession.
Participants give monthly predictions for overall workload and staffing levels
over the next three months, and are also asked about their workload predictions
in key sectors: private housing, commercial, community and public sector. Practices
are also asked on a quarterly basis about their current workload and staffing
levels. The Survey is carried out by the RIBA in partnership with the Fees Bureau.
The following is a summary analysis of the results from the
May 2014 Survey returns.
Future workload (May 2014)
How do you expect the architectural workload in the organisation you work in or own to change over the next three months?
|Stay the same
(The definition for the balance figure is the difference between those expecting more work and those expecting less.)
The RIBA Future Trends Workload Index was down very slightly this
month at +33, with confidence levels amongst our participating practices about
the level of future workloads remaining very strong.
This recovery in confidence levels continues to be widespread
across the whole of the UK, with Wales and the West topping the leader board in
May 2014 with a balance figure of +49.
Similarly, in terms of practice size, small practices (1 – 10
staff) with a balance figure of +31, medium-sized practice (10 – 50 staff) with
a balance figure of +57 and large-sized practices (51+ staff) with a balance
figure of +20, are all reporting very positive balance figures for workload
The following graph plots the RIBA Future Workload Index over time:
In terms of sector analysis, the private housing sector workload
forecast, up to +38 in May 2014 from +33 in April 2014, the public sector
workload forecast, up to +6 in May 2014 from +4 in April 2014, and the community
sector workload forecast, up to +9 in May 2014 from +5 in April 2014, all
increased this month.
The commercial sector workload forecast fell back slightly to +20
from +22 last month, but remains very much in positive territory.
Optimism about future workload increases continues to be driven by
the strengthening of the private housing sector and the increase in commercial
projects. A number of other specific markets also seem to be performing
strongly, including the higher education sector.
Overall actual workloads are up approximately 10% on a
year-on-year comparison basis.
The following graph tracks the sector predictions in the RIBA Future Trends
Survey over time:
Future staffing levels (May 2014)
How do you think the number of permanent architectural staff employed in your organisation will change over the next three months?
|Stay the same
(The definition for the balance figure is the difference between
those expecting to employ more permanent staff in the next three months and
those expecting to employ fewer.)
The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index fell marginally this month,
standing at +7 in May 2014 compared with +8 in April 2014. The great majority of
practices (93%) expect their staffing levels to either stay the same or increase
during the next quarter, and the Staffing Index remains very positive, as it has
for some time.
This increased optimism of the future staffing levels forecast
has not yet been realised in terms of a net increase in overall actual staffing
numbers, although it is heartening that there has been an annual increase of 11%
in the number of Part 1 and Part 2 students being employed by our participating
In May 2014 the percentage of our respondents reporting that they
had personally been under-employed in this month was 15%, down from 19% last
month, and indicating that the amount of spare capacity in the profession is
gradually reducing as aggregate workloads recover. This remaining spare capacity
is the major reason why we have not yet seen any increase in overall staffing
The following graph plots the RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index over time:
Anecdotal commentary received strongly suggests that the overall
market outlook for architects’ services is continuing to improve. However, our
practices continue to report a very competitive market for their services, and
there is little sign yet of any overall increase in margins.
The RIBA Future Trends Survey is based on a representative
sample of the range of different practice sizes and geographical locations which
enables analysis of the trends in sectors, size groups and by nation and region.
A total of 209 practices took part in the Survey in May 2014. The development of a larger database
of respondents will increase the statistical accuracy of the survey, and if
your practice would like to participate in future months, please contact the
RIBA Practice Department on 020 7307 3749 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The survey takes approximately five minutes to complete each month, and all
returns are independently processed in strict confidence by our partners the