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Just Where Are 15.7 Million New Project Management Roles Coming From?

Between 2010 and 2020, 15.7 million new project management roles will be created globally across seven project-intensive industries. (PMI, 2013)
Ever since I read the Industry Growth Forecast Report from PMI in 2013 and as we slowly creep towards 2020, I’ve been thinking about this a lot.
Image taken from PMI's 2013 report

Image taken from PMI’s 2013 report

15.7 million is a lot of project management roles and it has been fascinating to try to work out just where these roles are going to materialise and what these roles are likely to consist of. We’re in the middle of the predicted years right now, so are we already seeing more project management roles being created?

Here’s what I’ve worked out so far:

1. United States

The report from PMI already stated that there will be a growth in project management in the United States (read the report to get an understanding of why that may be). With a huge population, it stands to reason that the United States is probably home to the most project management roles in the world. But what about the rest of the world? In the UK, it certainly doesn’t feel like more and more roles are being created and it is tricky to try to quantify that too because what are the most reliable indicators that project management roles are going up? Counting new job advertisements just doesn’t cut it unfortunately.

2. Certain Industries

Also from the report, it stated that there were ‘project intensive’ sectors that would continue to get even more intensive (take a look at the image to the right). I think PMI missed one, potentially massive industry and that’s digital. We still have four years to go, that is a long time for organisations to get a handle on “digital disruption” *definition. There’s also no mention of public services, which in the UK at least is seeing a lot of projects at the moment. What other industries have changed in the last five years? Which ones were overlooked because the predictions were wrong? Or the economy has changed?

3. Not Just Project Management But Also Product Management

I listened to a recent webinar from Gartner called, “Where Your PPM Career Won’t Be in 2020“. If you work in project management I really recommend you have a listen, it’s still available on demand. In that webinar it talked about the role of the Project Manager and what three key skills would be necessary by 2020. Change management, adaptive approaches and product management were mentioned. If we look at the landscape today we see two different camps – the Project Manager and the Product Manager. In 2020, will today’s Product Manager be classed as a Project Manager and vice versa? If so, we’ve just bumped up the numbers considerably and we’re well on the way to 15.7 million.

4. No Let Up on Who Wants to be a Project Manager

Increasingly over the years, working in project management recruitment has given me an insight into just how popular project management as a career is becoming – especially as a career of first choice. More and more universities and colleges are offering project management degree courses for those without the classic “first career in something else before falling into project management” experiences like many project managers working today have.

Project management is attractive to people, it sounds like a great career, you get paid well and you get lots of challenges and changes. What’s not to love? I think project management is going to get even more attractive over the next 4 years as we head to 2020 so we can expect an influx of new generation project management workers (probably all working on the digital future!)

5. Anyone Can Be a Project Manager

It’s true. Anyone can call themselves a project manager. The definition of project gets looser and looser all the time. To be a project manager doesn’t mean being able to manage the building of a new bridge, handle a budget of £10million and manage a team of 50. You can be the manager of your own project – whether that’s managing a one-off initiative on request of the boss or organising the village fête. Anyone who uses a set of project management processes to get the job done, could, legitimately say they carry out a project management role. They might not be known as a project manager or have that title on their employment contract but they are carrying out a project management role.

As one recent PM Chatter put it so well:


#pmchat is a weekly Twitter chat for Project Managers


Do these types of roles contribute to our 15.7 million?


6. A Lot of Project Management Roles

The conversations happening today about strategic alignment, portfolio management and strategy execution are really in their infancy. We can add the newer project management roles that are being created around this, such as Portfolio Managers and Portfolio Analyst. We can also add roles such as Change Manager, Risk Manager, Benefits Manager, Planning Managers and Quality Managers – the specialist roles that pop up as projects, programmes and portfolios become larger, more complex and risky.

The role of PMO is not going away. In fact PMOs are slowly increasing in organisations (up to 74%, The Global State of the PMO from TwentyEighty) and organisations tend to have more than one PMO function too (50% have five or more, providing different focuses). With each different type, there are numerous different project management roles within them – PMO Manager, Project Co-ordinator, Programme Analysts, Project Administrators and so on. All adding to the 15.7 million project management roles.

We can even count roles such as Business Analysts, Process Analysts and Data Analysts as part of the project management roles definition too.

Do we also count Scrum Masters? Agile roles? Six Sigma people?

Not to mention programme managers (which incidentally Gartner’s predictions are that organisations will give a 40% increase in investment in programme management). Will that mean more programme managers needed? Or just better investment in tools, processes and methods?

What other roles are there? Which ones have I missed? Which ones don’t we know about today but will become something tomorrow? Which industries were missed? Which countries should we be looking at, not just in the developed world?

If you’ve also been thinking about these 15.7 million project management roles too and where you think they’re going to come from, why not leave a comment below, I would be fascinated to hear what you think too.

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About Lindsay Scott

Lindsay Scott
Lindsay Scott is Director of PMO Learning, the PMO training specialist and Arras People the programme and project management recruitment specialists. Lindsay is the project management careers columnist for PMI's Network magazine and co-editor of the Gower Handbook of People in Project Management. Lindsay created and hosts The PMO Conference and hosts the monthly PMO Flashmobs

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