The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has today published the results of the April 2013 Future Trends Survey. The RIBA Future Trends Workload Index fell back slightly to +16, down from +19 in March 2013. This is the first fall in the monthly workload indicator since November 2012, but it remains firmly in positive territory. Actual year-on-year workloads remain stable overall. Large practices (51+ staff) reported a 5% annual increase, but there is no real sign of a sustained upturn in total work in progress for architects at present.
Nations and regions in the UK except for Northern Ireland and Wales and West England returned positive balance figures this month.
Private sector housing fell back marginally in April 2013 (balance figure +16) from its March 2013 level (balance figure +17), as did the commercial sector forecast (balance figure +3, down from +6 in March). The public sector forecast (balance figure -6) and the community sector forecast (balance figure -9) both saw somewhat larger falls.
"Whilst there are some positive signs and confidence levels have improved, the outlook seems to remain uncertain beyond a three month timeline for many practices," commented Adrian Dobson, Director of Practice at RIBA. "Anecdotal commentary we receive continues to paint a very mixed picture, with some practices reporting an increase in enquiries and commissions, but others commenting that the market remains intensively competitive."
The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index increased a little in April 2013, rising to +2 and entering positive territory. Overall actual staffing levels are stable, but practices remain cautious about taking on additional permanent staff. They remain slightly more confident about employing additional temporary staff to meet workload requirements.
The percentage of architect respondents reporting that they had personally been under-employed in the last month was 29%, up from 26% last month.