Project management skills essential to advancing the economy of a $ 20 billion project

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The value of project-driven economic activity over the next decade is expected to reach $ 20 trillion, according to the nonprofit Project Management Institute (PMI).

The company’s “Talent Gap” report predicts that the number of jobs requiring project management skills, from economic growth to retirement rates, will create a global need for 25 million new project professionals by 2030.

This, MD for Europe and sub-Saharan Africa Ashwini Bakshi explains, means that 2.3 million project managers will need to fill project management-focused positions each year to meet demand. However, the talent shortage can present a significant risk to organizations as they rely on project teams to deliver strategic initiatives on time and on budget.

Although this is a “big challenge”, PMI does not think it is impossible.

“[Training] two and a half million project managers around the world is no small feat. But we believe that we can have a significant impact by starting early, like at university level, ”says Bakshi.

PMI, in this case, offers certification and training for university-level individuals to enter the workforce “already speaking the language of project management”. The company also offers traditional and more rigorous certification and training for project management professionals.

“We also believe that the nature of work in the modern organization requires everyone to speak the language of project management, we call them accidental project managers, so you don’t need to have the word project. in your title to work on a project or to acquire project management skills ”, explains Bakshi Engineering News.

So even a person in accounting or human resources will be able to take the PMI course, which, according to Bakshi, will allow them “to acquire the basics of classical project management”.

PMI believes that it will be a combination of these flexible and diverse methodologies that will contribute to the speed at which project management capacity develops in Africa and globally.

During this decade, Sub-Saharan Africa will experience a 40% growth in employment opportunities focused on project management. To take advantage of the new project economy, in part fueled by global commitments and efforts to stimulate economic growth, companies will need a new approach to project management.

However, research conducted by PMI has shown that the success of a large and complex project is often determined at the setup stage, due to the complexity and scale inherent in the project.

Currently, around 65% of projects undertaken worldwide fail.

Locally in South Africa, Bakshi says complex projects in energy, mining and infrastructure, for example, will benefit from skills development in the area of ​​project management.

South Africa recently walked away with funding commitments of around $ 8.5 billion at the recent COP26 summit, to help the country install more clean energy, while accelerating the country’s transition to moving away from coal-fired power and to cushion the blow to workers who might be affected by the move.

While South Africa, which relies heavily on coal, has pledged to reduce its overall emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) by 2030 as part of global efforts to tackle climate change, Bakshi says the country “faces enormous obstacles in doing so.”

In conversation with Engineering NewsBakshi explains that to mitigate these challenges, organizational agility must be built into these projects.

“We’re talking about specific scales of adaptability or complex problem-solving skills or the ability to choose how you work based on what’s going on in your project. This means that you need, at a minimum, a set of prerequisites that prepare you for success, but you also need to develop business agility during the project, which allows you to adapt and react quickly ” , he explains. .

Because projects globally all face some sort of hurdle in the delivery process, “project management skills will be in demand, especially over the next decade as countries invest in the delivery process. recovery, ”says Bakshi, adding that a key element will be communication and stakeholder engagement. .

“These issues are increasingly the focus of attention because to accomplish anything great these days you have to talk to multiple organizations, individuals, governments, regulators, funding bodies, your own product teams. and more, ”he says.

In addition, he points out that the rise of the project economy will also depend on how project managers choose to deal with difficult situations, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, which has forced many people to work from home.

“Big changes like this mean the nature of the work itself has to change when you can’t be with your team and you have to work remotely or in a hybrid model. You need a lot more focus on results, and you need to make sure that you are really focused on creating impact.

Bakshi highlights artificial intelligence (AI) as an increasing trend within the physical and psychological infrastructure of projects.

As such, companies will need a new approach to project management and a great recipe for skills development.

Bakshi explains that successful organizations, also known as adaptive organizations, often succeed because they are able to combine two seemingly different characteristics or traits.

This means that these companies often retain the ability to “pivot and adapt” while still keeping some critical parts of the processes in place.

According to PMI’s Beyond Agility report, organizations that focus on business agility often focus on a very systematic approach to risk management, and while the risks remain, the difference is that they are “less serious” because the organization explicitly manages the risks. .

“They have risk mitigation plans, they are constantly scanning the project environment for things that might harm you, and they have scenario planning and so on. But overall, they will adapt to the scale of the organization, ”he explains.

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