Brexit uncertainty hits architects' job prospects

Jim Dunton

Paul Chappell

Junior roles most affected but recruitment expert says demand for project architects ‘remains strong’

Turmoil surrounding the EU referendum has dented the architecture jobs market with junior roles hit hardest, according to a leading recruitment consultant.

Paul Chappell, pictured right, who runs architecture and design agency 9B Careers, was manager of RIBA Appointments until December last year. He said 2016 had dealt some of the biggest job-market shocks of the past two decades and that politics rather than terrorism or financial disaster had been the cause.

“This has certainly been a difficult year for architectural assistants,” he said.

“Candidates I thought would have been snapped up previously took a lot longer to find work. I think practices very much look at junior staff as an investment for the future where their value is seen a year or so down the line.

“When the next year or two is looking uncertain, firms are very much focussing on the immediate issues and taking on project architects who can hit the ground running.”

Chappell said the year had started with an “incredible number of jobs and demand for architectural staff” from Part 2s to more strategic director-level posts, but that despite remaining busy after the June 23 referendum practices had lost confidence in hiring junior staff.

But he said he believed confidence was beginning to return to the sector as practices recognised they could not defer recruitment plans indefinitely.

“The last couple of weeks have seen an increase in confidence and we have received a few roles for architectural assistants,” he said. “Hopefully this trend will continue but I would say confidence at this level is fragile.”



Chappell said demand for project architects with around five years post-Part 3 experience had “remained strong” throughout the year and that there now appeared to be a more general recognition that staff vacancies needed to be filled.

“For practices across the UK there is a sense that, following the referendum, they have held off for as long as possible on recruitment but have now reached a point where a backlog of work has built up and hiring new staff has become urgent,” he said.

Chappell added that while Stamp Duty changes introduced by former chancellor George Osborne had brought about a slowdown in work for architects on super-prime residential in the capital, opportunities still existed with established high-end players.

He said that the push to deliver more new homes for the general population would provide a “large percentage” of practice workload for years to come, and that both domestic and international infrastructure projects would provide a steady source of work for architects over the coming years.


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