How can we narrow this gap before it reaches a crisis point?
According to the third Project Management Job Growth and Talent Gap 2017-27 report commissioned last year by the Project Management Institute (PMI) and undertaken by the Anderson Economic Group (AEG), the global shortage of skilled project managers is growing far faster than was anticipated just four years ago. PMI first reported this trend in 2008, but it grew more significant in 2012 and again this year.
Several factors are at play. First, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of jobs requiring project-oriented skills. According to PMI, the practice is expanding within industries that were traditionally less project-oriented, such as healthcare, publishing, and professional services. In this scenario, the project manager role is critical in guiding organizations through a whole new way of doing things.
In the technology sphere, PMs are needed as new projects constantly spring up to support digital transformation efforts. And increasingly, organizations are connecting the dots between strategy and action, and here the PM plays an important role in outlining expectations and ensuring benefits.
Project managers are known to drive change and innovation in the organizations they serve, and given the speed at which companies must evolve if they wish to remain competitive in the 21st century economy, the project talent of today and tomorrow is at the forefront of substantial opportunity.
The workforce in general is experiencing record attrition rates and retirements. In the United States, in manufacturing, attrition will cause nearly all open positions (97 percent), while in management and professional services just over half the openings (52 percent) will occur for the same reason.
Given this scenario, PMI has seen a large uptick in demand for project talent, especially in rapidly developing economies such as China and India. By 2027, employers will need 87.7 million individuals working in project management oriented roles. In fact, the PMI analysis found that project managers contribute to a nation’s productivity, which supports GDP that in turn contributes to the standard of living. So, the project talent gap could result in a potential loss of some US $207.9 billion in GDP through 2027 for the 11 countries analyzed in PMI’s report.
In terms of financial compensation, project managers will be sitting pretty in most countries. In the U.S. in 2017, wages of project management-oriented workers in projected industries were far higher on average than wages of non-project-oriented professionals – a premium of 82 percent – and salaries will continue to rise as demand increases.
So what, if anything, can be done about this? As I talked about on Fast Track earlier this year, former U.S. president Barack Obama took one major step in the right direction. Before leaving office, he signed bill S.155, or the Program Management Improvement and Accountability Act (PMIAA). The PMIAA requires the implementation of established project management strategies to create a more consistent, efficient and effective federal government, as well as the carrying out of policies to correct widespread inefficiencies. If the law works as intended, it will provide a blueprint for all public and private sector organizations to effectively set up and manage their project management.
Organizations can also devise better strategies to source, develop, manage, and retain project management professionals, and can make project management a core competency for rising leaders. Building a relationship with PMI and learning about available resources, training, and certification opportunities will be of great assistance as companies strive to increase their project management bench and capabilities.
What do you think is in store for the project management field?