Slowdown sees 1,200 architects lose their jobs

FOUR out of 10 architects — or 1,200 — lost their jobs in the last year as the property market collapsed and Government slashed spending on infrastructure.

The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) said that 2,800 architects and architectural technicians were employed in January 2008, and around 1,200 of those have since been made redundant, with many firms planning more cuts.

An additional 38% of administrative staff have also been fired, and it was calculated that the number of practices employing architectural technicians willfall 40% by March.

The credit crunch was blamed for the massive downturn in the building boom as funding for private developments was pulled.

“There are several reasons for this, but a major factor was the housingcollapse,” RIAI director John Graby said.

“The rate of change in the big practices seems more dramatic, but even the smaller practices have gone the same.

“They’ve gone back to working in the back bedroom, or letting out parts of their premises. It’s right across the country.”

Mr Graby said the credit crunch was a key issue in the private sector asclients who were ready to start a new build could not get funds.

Mr Graby also accused government agencies of not paying for work already completed.

“On some occasions practices have been told ‘don’t send us an invoice because we can’t pay you’.

“That’s by government departments and agencies and it has been happening for quite some time.”

Mr Graby said the Government is also afraid to go ahead with new infrastructure and builds, like schools or social housing schemes, because of the tax take.

“Virtually all public sector work has been paused,” he added. “If people knew what was going to go ahead, or what is being stopped or delayed, then they could plan, but at the moment nobody can plan. Everything is paused.”

Of 559 registered architect firms in the Republic, 233 responded to an RIAIsurvey in December. From those companies alone, 840 architects and technicians had been made redundant — with that figure projected to rise over the coming two months.

“A great deal of expertise has been developed within the Irish architectural profession over the last 15 years and Irish architects are among the best in the world at delivering high volume, high quality buildings within tight time frames,” said Mr Graby.

“There is a significant opportunity for the Irish government to capitalise on this expertise.”

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