RIBA Future Trends Survey for April 2015 shows growing confidence in staff demand

Staffing levels in the first quarter of 2015 are 6% higher than the 2014 equivalent, with

medium-sized practices the most optimistic about future staffing. However, practices expect a decline in both public and community sector workloads.

The RIBA Future Trends Workload Index was unchanged in April 2015, remaining at +35. Practices in London and the South of England are still the most confident about medium-term workloads; workload forecasts remain positive throughout the UK.

Small practices (1–10 staff) are still positive about the outlook for future workloads (balance figure of +29); medium-sized practices (11–50 staff) and large-sized practices (51+ staff) continue to be even more optimistic about future growth (+74 and +75 respectively). 

In terms of different work sectors, the private housing sector workload forecast increased this month (rising to +38) and remains the best performing of the sector forecasts. The commercial sector workload forecast fell slightly to +15, eliminating the previous month’s rise.

The public sector forecast also decreased this month, down to +3. The community sector forecast experienced a significant decline, down to -3 in April 2015 from +9 in March 2015, entering negative territory for the first time since April 2013.

The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index continued its recent upward trend, rising to +18. Only 1% of participating practices anticipate that they will be employing fewer permanent staff in three months’ time.

Following a period in which larger practices have been the most positive about future staffing levels, in April 2015, medium-sized practices emerged as the most confident (balance figure +48). For large practices, the balance figure stands at +25, while small practices remain more circumspect at +14.

Each quarter, practices are asked about their permanent staffing levels. Current staffing levels are 6% higher than in the equivalent quarter in 2014. 13% of RIBA’s respondents reported that they had personally been under-employed in the last month.

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