The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has published the results of the January 2013 Future Trends Survey. The Future Trends Workload Index was up in January, increasing to +18 from +8 in December 2012; the Index has remained in positive territory since October 2012.
"The RIBA's survey data continues to suggest that the overall market for architects' services is stable," RIBA Director of Practice Adrian Dobson commented. "I'm pleased to report that there are positive signs of increasing confidence over the prospect of some medium term growth."
Large practices (51+ staff) remain the most optimistic about future work, but all size categories of practices returned positive workload forecast figures last month. 29% of survey respondents reported that they had been personally under-employed in the previous month.
Positive workload forecast balance figures were reported for practices in Wales and all the English regions, however Scotland and Northern Ireland remain in negative territory.
The main driver for the increased optimism in future workloads for January comes from the private housing sector (balance figure +17 for January, up significantly from +5 in December 2012). The commercial sector (balance figure +2), public sector forecast (balance figure -8) and community sector forecast (balance figure -4) were all down marginally this month. With the next round of the Government's austerity drive just around the corner, the public and community sectors continue to be challenging areas for the industry.
The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index fell back to -6 in January 2013, down from -3 in December 2012, revealing that practices remain nervous about taking on additional permanent members of staff. Temporary staffing level forecasts in the next quarter are more positive with an overall balance figure of +8. Practices in London remain the most likely to take on additional staff in the next quarter; practices in Northern Ireland and Scotland remain the most cautious.