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How Will Brexit Affect Recruitment in Architecture?

Brexit is already having a negative impact on the British architecture sector with a growing number of projects being slowed down and even cancelled.

The majority of architects from the EU are also considering leaving the country.

This dire warning appeared in a new report from RIBA (the Royal Institute of British Architects), which revealed the extent of the uncertainty in the UK construction industry.

The report, entitled Global by Design 2018, is the second annual result from the most in-depth survey of architect opinions on Brexit. It provides insights into the main trends, priorities, and concerns facing the profession.

This year the report also reveals concerns about the ongoing lack of clarity on the future relationship between the UK and the EU as well as government support for architecture recruitment. It calls for a post-referendum immigration system that enables UK businesses to access talent from the EU and a mutual recognition of professional architect qualifications with the EU as well as markets such as Canada, Australia, and the USA.

Ben Derbyshire, president of RIBA, said that the survey results reveal growing uncertainty in the profession. He recommended urgent action if Britain is to prevent a talent exodus and crisis in architecture recruitment.

 

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Allan Vallance, chief executive of RIBA, said that attracting and keeping architecture talent in the UK is “absolutely critical.”  Many EU architects are uncertain about their future in Britain, a situation that is having a negative impact in architecture recruitment.

Richard Keating, director of London-based firm Orms Designers & Architects Ltd, was taken aback when he realised that over 80% of his staff come from outside Britain, and half of those workers are from the EU. This diversity appears to be the norm at London practices, which are used to hiring talent from across the globe.

The Brexit vote has now put this freedom in jeopardy. Questions are now arising about how to recruit and retain talent, especially with obstacles like the complicated visa application process, end of free movement, and the slump in the pound.

Chris Hartiss, director of Squire & Partners, said there was a general atmosphere of unease affecting the architecture profession. His conclusion was backed by Bespoke Careers representative Lindsay Urquhart, who said that in the 12 months after the referendum, the number of people applying to work in Britain had dropped by 39%.

Industry experts also said that one of the biggest obstacles to hiring overseas employees is the visa application process, which appears to be plagued by high costs, excessive bureaucracy, and unnecessary delays. Bespoke Careers representative Leo Pemberton added that the minimum Tier 2 visa salary threshold of £55,000 does not work financially for many architecture firms. Jo Bacon, partner at Allies and Morrison, worried that the difficult visa process would cause London to lose its reputation for creativity and design innovation.

Lisa Melvin, Arney Fender Katsalidis COO, had a more positive outlook. She said that most Europeans are not worried about remaining in the country and accept that there will be a transition period. She added, “I don’t have a sense that people feel unwelcome.”

Specialists in Construction Insurance

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