The Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) monthly Future Trends workload index gained strength in March 2017 (rising to +22 from +16 in February 2017).
Architecture practices in Northern Ireland were the most optimistic about future workloads (balance figure +57), followed by Midlands and East Anglia (+37) and the North of England (+30). Practices in London (+13) and the South of England (+6) trailed, though remaining somewhat positive.
Medium-sized practices (11–50 staff) were more optimistic about future workloads, with a balance figure of +36, than either small or large practices (both standing at +20).
For the first time in over a year, all four sector forecasts predicted growth. The private housing sector is still expected to be the strongest performer over the next quarter despite a slight decline in the workload forecast (falling to +20 in March from +23 in February). The public sector (+2) and community sector forecasts (+1) edged back into positive territory while the commercial sector increased to +9.
The RIBA Future Trends staffing index increased to +12 in March (up from +9 in February), with only 6% of practices expecting to employ fewer staff in three months’ time.
Medium-sized practices were again the most positive about future staffing levels (balance figure +20), compared with large (balance figure +10) and small practices (balance figure +12).
RIBA Executive Director Members, Adrian Dobson, said, “Despite some of the economic and political uncertainties in the months ahead, responding practices are expecting their pipeline of work to remain healthy in the medium-term. However, anecdotal commentary suggests there are signs of practices being less confident about the longer term outlook.”