The Royal Institute of British Architects' (RIBA) has published the latest results of the monthly Future Trends Survey for June 2011.
The number of practices expecting more work in June remained constant at 26%; those expecting a drop in workload fell from 24% in May to 22% in June. Fewer practices expected a drop in staff levels, falling from 15% in May to 11% in June; 8% of practices expected staff levels to increase, compared to 7% in May. 24% of architects reported that they have personally been under-employed in June 2011, a significant improvement from the figure of 29% returned in May 2011.
The sector forecasts remain virtually unchanged this month. The private housing sector forecast (balance figure +7) remains the most positive with 64% of practices expecting work levels to stay the same, compared to 60% in May; the percentage of practices expecting a reduced workload fell from 17% in May to 15% in June. The commercial sector forecast is neutral (balance figure zero); the number of practices expecting workload to remain constant rose from 60% in May to 69% in June, and 16% of practices predicted less work compared to 21% in May. The outlook for the public sector workload (balance figure -23) remains the most pessimistic, with only 4% of practices expecting a rise in workload (compared to 7% in May); 80% of practices predicted that workload would remain the same, compared to 77% in May.
The statistical analysis of the survey enables the RIBA to regularly report on two key confidence tracking indices relating to future workloads and staffing levels. For June 2011, the RIBA Future Trends Workload Index is +4 (compared to +2 in May), and the RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index is -3 (compared to -8 in May).
"The RIBA Future Trends Workload Index for June 2011 is +4, a slight increase from +2 in May 2011, suggesting little overall change in confidence levels this month but remaining in positive territory," said Adrian Dobson, RIBA Director of Practice.
"Small practices (1 - 10 staff) see the best short term growth prospects in the housing sector, whilst larger practices (51+ staff) predict growth in the next quarter to come mainly from the commercial sector. Medium sized practices (10 -50 staff) see their future growth being in both the housing and commercial markets. No practice size category currently perceives immediate growth opportunities in the community and public sectors. Our practices report that 59% of their current workload involves conservation, refurbishment or adaptive re-use of existing buildings; this illustrates the significant role that work to existing buildings plays in the market for architectural services.
In their anecdotal comments, our practices continue to report intense economic pressure, resulting in a very competitive fee environment and evidence of reduced levels of specification for many of those projects which are progressing. Uncertainty of funding in the public sector remains a significant concern. Some conservation specialists noted the negative impact of the changes to the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme, which means that VAT can no longer be re-claimed in relation to professional fees on these projects. A number of smaller practices cited the importance of detailed knowledge of local markets and local reputation in maintaining workflows. Some larger practices commented on an increase in the requirements for BIM capability as a pre-qualification criterion on larger projects."