The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has released its Future Trends Survey for November 2014. The Workload Index fell back this month, standing at +29 in November 2014 compared with +37 in October 2014, but remaining firmly in very positive territory.
"We are beginning to see the first real evidence of practices encountering difficulties in attracting new staff with the right mix of skills and experience," said Adrian Dobson, RIBA Director of Practice. "This seems to be a countrywide phenomenon and not particularly confined to specific geographical locations.
"There are also reports of an increasing gap between the salary expectations of applicants and potential employers. At the present time profit margins remain tight for many practices, as a legacy of the long recession which inevitably depressed fee levels, and this is clearly constraining the capacity of practices to increase salary offers."
In terms of geographical analysis the highest balance figures were in Northern Ireland (+50) and the North of England (+46), as some of the areas that were initially the slowest to indicate a return to growth continue to catch up with the rest of the country. Workload forecast balance figures were positive in all nations and regions of the United Kingdom in November.
In terms of practice size, small practices (1 - 10 staff), with a balance figure of +23, stay positive about the outlook for future workloads, but medium-sized practices (11 - 50 staff) with a balance figure of +70 and large-sized practices (51+ staff) with a balance figure of +60 remain even more optimistic about the likely shape of their medium term order books.
In terms of different work sectors, the private housing sector workload forecast fell back somewhat to +26 in October 2014, down from +34 in November 2014, but remaining the most buoyant of the sector forecasts. The commercial sector workload forecast continued its recent steady upward trend, nudging ahead by a single point to stand at +20 in November 2014; clearly a sign that practices anticipate the growth this sector has experienced in 2014 to continue in the New Year.
The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index stands at +11 in November 2014, down a little from +14 in October 2014, but remaining strongly in positive territory, with only 4% of practices predicting a decrease in overall permanent staffing levels over the next quarter.