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Architecture & Interior Design Employment Market 2021

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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the Architecture and Interior Design industry and its employees. With projects on hold and many new developments in decline, it has already forced some practices to close their doors. Some have ceased operations temporarily whilst others have recorded historic levels of reduction in work. Utilising the data gathered from our employment survey, we share with you the results of how the employment market in Architecture and Interior Design is performing.

Throughout 2020 we have been at the forefront of the ongoing coverage of the Architecture and Interior Design downturn. We wanted to see the real impact this has had on the employment profile of those working in the industry across the UK. A staggering 28% of Architecture and Interior Design professionals who completed the survey are now unemployed. In direct comparison, we have reported over the last five years that we have been working in a candidate-led recruitment market. Practices were struggling to attract and retain the number of employees required to meet the demand for work.

Notably, females who completed the survey were more likely than males to be unemployed, 35% and 23% respectively. Whilst we would not like to make any assumptions about why this has occurred, this has to be a blow to the industry that females are finding the employment market harder than their male equivalents.

34% of those with the least experience (up to two years’) found themselves unemployed, as well as 32% of those who had ten years’ plus experience. Architectural Assistants were most likely to have lost their employment (38%) with Architectural Technicians (37%) close behind.

Employment Profile Of Respondents

In total, 35% of qualified Architecture and Interior Design professionals who took part in the survey are no longer working in the industry. There have been many stories in the press of these people taking on jobs at supermarkets and online retailers like Amazon. This may seem like an extreme representation of the market, however, 7% have had to find alternative employment and are facing this reality.

Martin Bennell, Managing Director of FRAME commented: “With over a third of professionals in Architecture and Interior Design no longer working in what they have trained for, it is simply a shocking reality of the state of the industry. Just as we saw back in the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, people need to work and if their industry is not able to give them opportunities, they will seek them elsewhere, albeit perhaps on a more temporary basis.

In addition, for those who were currently employed in the industry, 35% had been on furlough between April and October. We saw 77% of practices making use of the furlough scheme in our last employer survey with large practices (over 50 people) the most likely to utilise it. Females were more likely to be on furlough than males, at 38% and 34% respectively.

The UK government’s furlough scheme has been a lifeline for some practices. Desperate not to lose the teams they have worked hard to attract and build, it has enabled them to retain some of their talent. For others, furlough just simply hasn’t been enough and practices have had to make tough decisions early on in the pandemic.” said Bennell. 

You can read the full Architecture & Interior Design Employment and Industry Review 2021 here.