Project/programme/portfolio managers, a scarce resource in many sectors?
In many economic sectors in Europe (but not only), the supply of skilled professionals also is not matching the demand that is continuously increasing. Although the ageing of the working population is one of the reasons that explain the scarcity of skilled professionals, this phenomenon has been particularly revealed since the outbreak of Covid 19 two years ago. Doctors, engineers, technicians, nurses, catering staff, various professions in the construction sector, teachers, bus drivers and many other skilled professionals have become scarce resources with a significant impact on the economy and society. This dramatic situation also concerns professional and certified project managers in many sectors.
As the project economy transforms, the need for certified project managers continues to increase. According to statistics, around 25 million new project management professionals will be needed in the talent landscape by 2030. (1)
A strategic sector in light of the present world crisis and recession that can be mentioned is the energy sector. Project professional institutions, therefore, need to adapt to the market needs in terms of qualified project managers.
For International Project Management Association and its member associations (www.ipma.world), this means dealing with at least four challenges:
1. Lack of awareness about the existence of the project management profession:
To quote one example, it is astonishing that in some OPEC countries whose economies depend 80% on the revenue of oil and gas exports, the awareness at the C-suite level of the major oil exporting nation companies about the existence of the project management profession remains relatively low. Furthermore, these energy-fossil-producing countries are undertaking massive projects to transform their sectors to produce green energy generated through solar farms, wind farms and other alternatives to fossil energy. Other examples in other countries, sectors, and companies could be quoted.
- Draining people to the profession:
Attracting young people to the project management profession does not only start at a polytechnic school or university level; it should start at the school level. IPMA (www.ipma.world) started to realize this a couple of years ago by developing an ecosystem that takes into consideration this challenge (https://www.ipma.world/?s=IPMA+kids)
- Finding/ targeting the suitable profiles:
Project managers must be generalists with a knack for good communication, organization, critical thinking and being resourceful — skills that translate well across any number of industries. This means developing consequent communication and marketing tools and producing adequate campaigns and events. Indeed, although the demand for project managers is high, endeavours to undergo qualification and certification processes for candidates could be a stumbling block in case the added value of such qualifications is not well understood by potential candidates
- Producing more certified project managers:
At the operational level, the dilemma of maintaining a high-level quality standard that will allow the project managers to qualify against those standards while enabling project managers who are managing projects to free the necessary time to undergo the certification process. This also means, as an example of a solution, that certification sponsors, candidates and certifying bodies adapt to address this dilemma by optimizing their processes and organizing training and certification sessions according to the candidate’s needs/availabilities.
To address the topic of the scarcity of professional project managers now and in the future, IPMA has updated its 2030 mission and related vision statements, its key focus areas and strategic objectives and finally, its biennial plan 2023-2024, which was approved by its Council of Delegates meeting in September 2022.
It is clear from what precedes that project/programme/portfolio managers are a scarce resource in many sectors. The good news is that professional project organizations can do something about it. IPMA is addressing the challenges with 2030 mission and related vision statements, its key focus areas and strategic objectives. This includes advocating the profession where ever possible and building partnerships that will enable the implementation of these strategic objectives.
Like in any economic sector in which different players act for the same purpose, namely supplying the demand for qualifying project management professionals for the good of society, it is critical to orchestrating the profession. It is through a concerted way with the different players in the project society that the profession will be recognized at the highest level of society in general. Initiatives in this direction are being taken because alone we might go fast but together we will go far in reaching the profession objectives.
Amin Saidoun is Executive Director of International Project Management Association, an international federation of project management associations around the world. Amin Saidoun, is an economist and graduate from London School of Economics and Political Sciences. He is a project manager who gained his 20 years of experience in international projects both in medium sized and multinational organisations in auditing, consulting and the logistics domain. As Executive Director of IPMA, he is in charge of the area Finance and Administration, Business Development of IPMA activities in Africa and the Middle-East and involved is various internal development projects and governance. He is author and co-author on various project management and business administration related articles. Among his areas of interest: intercultural project management
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