The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Future Trends Survey for October 2011 shows little change in confidence about future workloads. Statistical analysis of the survey enables the RIBA to track regularly the two key indices of confidence within the profession: future workloads and staffing levels.
There was a slight rise in the RIBA Future Trends Workload Index which for October stood at -7, compared with -10 in September 2011. Practices in London remain the most optimistic about growth in workloads over the next three months, while Northern Ireland and Scotland remain the least confident about future work. As in previous months, it is the smaller (one to 10 staff) and medium (11 to 50 staff) sized practices that are less confident.
The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index also barely changed: down from -7 in September to -8 in October. No practice - of any size - predicts an increase in staffing in the next quarter. Overall staffing levels had on average declined by 7 per cent from October 2010, which tracks a reduction of 12 per cent in actual work in progress compared with October 2010.
A third of those responding to the survey felt that they had personally been under-employed during October, a slightly higher percentage than in September 2011.
The public, commercial and community sectors forecasts also saw little or no change. On the other hand, the private housing sector forecast recovered quite strongly, moving from - 5 in September 2011 to +5 in October 2011.
"Not unexpectedly, practices continue to describe a challenging and unpredictable state of play, with increased competition for falling levels of public sector work and continuing resistance by banks to lend for development projects. Faced with this uncertain outlook, they are reluctant to recruit new staff," said Adrian Dobson, RIBA Director of Practice.
"But on a more positive note, the bespoke housing sector remains strong, buoyed by all-time low interest rates, and more specialised areas within healthcare and conservation also continue to perform well."