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Inspiring the next generation of project management talent

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Over the last 25 years I’ve encountered one persistent challenge: How do we identify, recruit and develop talent in project management and control disciplines?
To say schools and universities aren’t producing “the right type” of skills and behaviours for the industry is looking in the wrong direction. We need to first look at ourselves as a profession. Why? Because as custodians of discipline knowledge, insight and foresight, we understand the profession’s needs and therefore the capabilities required in the project management professional of today and tomorrow.

In the current worldwide economic malaise we remain a pleasing anomaly with a positive outlook. There is an enduring need for project management talent. Despite the continued demand, the potential for excellent remuneration and the flexibility of location, a career in project management still seems to be slipping under the radar of ‘Generation Y’.
Further education, at present, is not designed to produce the required raft of intellectually astute project managers, controllers, planners and risk specialists.  The responsibility lies with us to help young talent recognise project management as a viable, positive choice for their immediate futures.

We need to promote the exciting projects they could be working on within a few short weeks of leaving school or university.

We must reach out to ensure our value is evident, our contribution understood and our profession an appealing and achievable choice.

To be effective, communication needs to be done during their inquisitive and opinion forming years within the school system.

So make a difference this month. Go back to school and sell the future of project management to Generation Y.


This article first appeared in Project magazine, November 2013


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  1. Martin Arcari
    Martin Arcari 17 January 2014, 01:51 PM

    I am relatively new into PM, but for me one of the difficulties is discovering the opportunities and career routes available. I think a lot of project management roles area buried quite deep within organisational structures which makes it difficult to 'plan a course' through the PM world - something that new graduates are increasingly encouraged to do. I think it could do with some of the fog lifting around where people start out and how they progress through the PM world; I once completed a project in a bank where we profiled a number of employees all the way up the food chain in one particular department to get them to explain clearly (the articles were under 500 words each) how they got to where they got to. This received strong positive feedback from those who used the resource. I don't know if that sort of format could have any relevance here?

  2. Jonathan Pinkney
    Jonathan Pinkney 10 January 2014, 01:34 PM

    Hi Martin,Spot on article.Last year I took the role of Project Manager of a student project team. Representing University of Wales Newport we developed presentation materials for STEM ambassadors to promote Project Management as a career, aligned to Science, Tech, Engineering and Maths. The experience was a great one, and I can safely say our STEM Ambassadors (both APM Members) found the experience a really positive one.Being relatively new to project management I think it is safe to say that profession suffers from a stereotypical view of a boring, tedious role. I think this view was echoed by the students we spoke to, until we opened their eyes to the range of projects they could be working on; from building and running London 2012 to working on the X-Factor.I would urge those with experience to share them, as I'm sure the benefits with be felt by the audience, the sharer and the profession. Also the concept of sharing knowledge and experience is, in my opinion, one of the most important factors in improving project management. If young people enter project management with this ethos already in-built, then the vision of 'a world where all projects succeed' is a step closer to where it needs to be.Jon

  3. Lisa Street
    Lisa Street 09 January 2014, 05:58 PM

    I completely agree with what you have written here. I have just signed my self up to Inspiring the Future and looking forward to the opportunities that it will bring. I am excited about sharing my story of how I am where I am and hoping this will provide motivation to the next future Project Managers.