Architects’ workloads fall in November

The RIBA Future Trends workload index dipped to +9 in November 2016, down from +16 in October), though remained firmly in positive territory.

London practices continued to be most cautious about future workloads (balance figure zero). Elsewhere the outlook was more optimistic, with the Midlands and East Anglia (balance figure +21) remaining most positive.

Large practices (51+ staff) continued to show an upswing in confidence levels, with a balance figure of +33. Medium-sized practices (11 – 50 staff), with a balance figure of +36, were most positive about future work prospects.

The commercial sector workload forecast increased to +4 in November 2016, up from +1 in October. However, the private housing sector workload forecast was down slightly, standing at +10 in November compared with +16 in October.

Participating practices anticipate little change in overall public sector demand for architectural services in the medium term – the public sector workload forecast saw a marginal improvement, up to -2 in November from -4 in October, though remaining in negative territory. The community sector forecast also increased marginally, rising to +1 from zero in October.

The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index crept up one balance point this month, rising to +2 in November 2016 from +1 in October. This month it was medium-sized practices (11 – 50 staff), with a balance figure of +28, that were the most positive about future staffing levels.

RIBA Executive Director Members Adrian Dobson said, “Commentary received from our participating practices this month can generally be best characterised as cautious optimism.

“The private housing sector, particularly in the South of England and the Midlands and East Anglia, clearly remains buoyant. A number of participants indicated that they had detected some greater caution on the part of investors in the commercial office market.

“The overall sense from the profession is of an employment market that is currently broadly in balance, with little evidence of any immediate skills shortage.”

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