Job Keeper saves architects but stimulus package not enough, survey finds

The results of the Association of Consulting Architects’ third “pulse check” survey reveal that a large number of redundancies have been prevented through the federal government’s Job Keeper wage subsidy.

The survey, which was conducted from 31 May to 3 June, received responses from 453 practices employing 4,520 full time equivalent (FTE) technical staff and more than 600 FTE casual technical staff.

Of the responding practices, 65 percent had experienced a decline in revenue of at least 30 percent, 95 percent of responding practices had applied for the Job Keeper wage subsidy and 90 percent successfully received it. Another 78 percent of responding practices said the subsidy prevented staff redundancies and 74 percent said it prevented staff from being stood down. Many responding practices would like to see the scheme extended after September.

Workflow is still a major concern for practices with only 17 percent indicating they have enough work on until the end of the year.

Productivity is improving with 28 percent of practices reporting they have already returned to pre-COVID-19 levels and 35 percent expecting to recover fairly quickly.

However, uncertainty persists for employees, with practices reporting that 657 employees had had their hours reduced, 188 were stood down and 166 were made redundant. Another 91 contract workers were stood down or made redundant. These numbers equate to 21.5 percent of total staff employed by the responding practices.

Practices are still facing project delays and cancellations of projects, although the percentage of responding practices facing delays or cancellations has dropped by 10 percent from those who responded to the second pulse check survey.

Some 200 practices have had projects cancelled, with the approximate value of cancelled projects totalling $1.8 billion, while 224 practices said they had projects on hold which amounted to a total value of $3.3 billion.

Many responding practices say the government stimulus won’t help architects and that the stimulus should have been spent on community and social infrastructure. Practices would also like to see approvals fast-tracked and projects brought forward.

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