Image: Project Management Institute

The global economy needs 25 million new project professionals by 2030, due to economic growth, an increase in the number of jobs requiring project management-oriented skills and retirement rates, a new report finds. To close the talent gap, 2.3 million project managers and changemakers will be needed to fill these roles every year to keep up with the demand, according to the Talent Gap report from the Project Management Institute.

This shortage of talent may pose a considerable risk to organizations as they rely on project teams to implement strategic initiatives on time and on budget, the report said.

While COVID-19 has caused a contraction in project management-oriented employment, better-than-average growth relative to many job categories is expected after the pandemic, the report said. “The urgent need for workers with project management skills was further reinforced by a recent PMI study that cited project management as one of the top-five areas business leaders would like to prioritize in 2021,” the report said.

SEE: Behind the scenes: A day in the life of an IT project manager (TechRepublic)

The in-demand nature and shortage of experienced talent make project management-oriented roles financially attractive, the PMI report said. According to the Talent Gap report, in 2019, salaries for project management-related roles in the U.S. were far higher on average than wages not related to project management by 78%.

The average project management-oriented salary is substantially higher than other occupations in industries with significant project management requirements—$111,399 versus $62,572, the report said.

The largest and fastest growth for project management jobs in the U.S. will be in software development–a projected 14% increase in occupations through 2030, the PMI report said. Much of this growth will come from the development of mobile applications, IT security and a rise in healthcare technology.

Following software, the other top PMOE occupations in the U.S. are management analysts, computer systems and construction management. Occupations in project management and business operations will also see a steady increase over the next 10 years, despite a pandemic-related dip, according to the report.

Industries including manufacturing and construction, publishing and professional services, finance and insurance, management and professional services, utilities, oil and gas are becoming increasingly project-oriented, the report said.

Growth in all these sectors is leading to greater demand for project management skills, creating even more project management job openings over the next 10 years. The growth rate of PMOE within so-called projectized industries is expected to be higher than for overall employment in these industries, the report said.

GDP at risk

The talent gap is likely to impact every region, which could result in a potential loss of up to $345.5 billion in global GDP by 2030 if jobs go unfilled, according to the report.

“Interestingly, our findings also show that the benefits of increased productivity correlate with a higher GDP,” the report noted. “The share of GDP increase due to productivity improvement in projectized industries is projected to be greatest in Europe, China, and North America. In order for regions with a lower GDP to sustain growth, higher levels of productivity held up by PMOE will be vital to their future.”

China has the highest rate of job openings (1,022,256) through 2030. South Asia follows with 504,363, Europe with 131,715 PMOE openings and North America with 128,088 job openings.

Upskill now

The report advocated for organizations to provide learning opportunities. “The global demand for project management talent is unlikely to be filled by 2030 unless organizations promote a culture of continual learning. Reimagined employee capability-building will be a core focus for the most resilient organizations,” the PMI report said.

To foster their own talent, organizations will need to champion new learning initiatives and explore partnerships to equip employees with the necessary project management skills. These capabilities include power skills such as collaboration and leadership; business acumen to create well-rounded employees; and mastering new ways of working, like increased usage of tech-enhanced problem-solving tools.

“Projects and the changemakers behind those projects play a vital role in the global economy and society as a whole. And while project managers are the quintessential changemaker, any individual who possesses project management skills can help steer change,” said Joe Cahill, chief customer officer of the PMI, in a statement. “Upskilling the workforce and empowering a new generation of talent with project management skills will be critical in narrowing the talent gap and creating positive impact.”

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