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Outlook for architect and wider UK construction industry improving
The outlook for architects in the UK has improved slightly with the latest future trends survey from the Royal Institution of British Architects (RIBA) showing that workload indicators are in positive territory.

Its May 2013 workload index fell back again slightly for the second consecutive month in a row to +12 from +16 in April 2013 but the key monthly workload indicator remains firmly in positive territory.

More practices predicting an increase rather than a reduction in overall workloads over the next three months according to the report that covers prospects for the architects’ profession and the wider construction industry.

All regions in the UK except for Northern Ireland returned positive balance figures for May with the South of England at +16, the Midlands and East Anglia at +26 and Scotland at +17 being the most optimistic.

The private housing sector forecast saw a significant increase in May 2013 at +23 from +16 in April, reflecting other recent positive economic indicators in relation to the housing market.

The commercial sector forecast saw little change at +2, down marginally from +3 in April. The public sector forecast at -3 and the community sector forecast at +2 both improved in May.

The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index increased marginally to +3 in May 2013 compared with +2 in April 2013 and remains in positive territory.

The survey also shows that actual staffing levels remain stable, but there remains significant caution about increasing staff numbers in the short to medium term.

Practices based in the South of England and the Midlands and East Anglia are currently most likely to consider increasing the number of staff they employ during the next quarter.

In May the percentage of our respondents reporting that they had personally been under employed in the last month was 25%, improving a little from 29% recorded in April.

Practices report that they are currently employing 5% more students than this time last year and there is a greater confidence about taking on year out and post Part 2 students which RIBA said is a very positive sign and suggests some improvement in the outlook for those seeking to establish their careers in architecture.

‘Anecdotal commentary we receive continues to paint a very mixed picture with experiences varying greatly depending upon location and sector expertise,’ said RIBA director of practice Adrian Dobson.

‘The bespoke housing sector continues to remain robust, indeed to be very strong in some locations, and some specialist areas such as conservation are reported to be performing well,’ he explained.

‘Access to funding continues to appear to be a challenge for many developer clients and there is not yet any real sign of a significant overall pick up in the commercial sector, with some practices reporting an increase in enquiries and commissions, but others commenting that the market remains intensively competitive,’ he added.
  
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