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Ireland — Architectural firms have shed 60% of staff in two years

25 January 2010

A new report by the Irish subsidiary of specialist recruitment firm Hays reveals that three in five employees (60%) in architectural companies in Ireland have lost their jobs since 2007.

Almost one third of architectural firms nationwide (32%) have laid off between 61% and 100% of their staff during this two year period. These job cuts have affected every level of the business, from receptionists to partners.

"The Architecture in Ireland Employment Report clearly demonstrates that architecture has felt more than its fair share of pain during this recession," says Paul O'Donnell, Manager of Hays Architecture.

"The sheer scale of job losses within the architectural profession is simply staggering. One practice we spoke to had shed 168 out of 180 jobs," he continued. 178 architectural firms responded to the survey which was carried out at the end of last year. The 178 firms employed a total of 2,306 people in 2007, but that number had fallen dramatically to 945 by the end of 2009. Only 16% of the firms who responded to the survey (28 in total) have not shed any jobs in this two year period, however, twelve of the practices were sole traders before the recession.

"The devastation of the architectural industry over the past two years is even showing at college level, where applications to level 8 architectural college courses has seen a drop of 27%, from 3,952 to 2,787. This shows that even school leavers are losing faith in the industry." says Paul O'Donnell.

It's not all bad news though, 43% of firms surveyed say, despite the massive lay-offs. They expect to recruit again within the next 18 months. Of these, many report that they will rehire staff that they have made redundant. However, 46% of firms said they don't know or can't see any growth in staff numbers in the foreseeable future.

According to the survey, banks also posed a problem for the architects. 70% of firms indicated that they had projects in the pipeline being held up due to lack of finance.
The firms that are proving to be the most resilient in the face of the recession are those which are proactively seeking a speciality area that is commercially viable. Niche areas, such as sustainable design, fire consultancy or archaeology, have all proved more 'recession proof'. However, these specialist areas clearly do not need the same resources that were required to serve the once-buoyant residential and commercial sectors that have now collapsed.



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