We're all delighted that the APM has been granted a Royal Charter and that the project management profession can now be recognised on the same level as, say, a chartered accountant or a chartered engineer, with all the discipline and rigour such accreditation entails.
After completing a degree in Physics & Electronics at Manchester I worked on the design, operations and construction of nuclear power stations – becoming a project manager through necessity rather than design. So project management wasn't exactly a career of choice for me – and that has traditionally been true for many project professionals. A typical route is to study for a university degree, work for a while in your chosen industry and then progress to project manager – usually in that very same industry.
But this year there will be another significant change in the project management world that will open up opportunities for people who choose not to go to university. University education isn't right for everyone and I don't know how I would feel now if I knew I would be leaving with a large debt as well as my B.Sc.
In fact, for young people who know already that they want to work in project management (and who wouldn't, now that it has a Royal Charter) there is a new Project Management Apprentice scheme. This has been introduced because large companies will soon have to pay a new Apprenticeship Levy designed to encourage them to train their workforce in new skills.
Because large organisations subject to this levy can offset the amount due by paying for apprentices to be trained, it makes sense that they will do so - and then benefit from a better trained workforce.
Back when I was a student apprenticeships were viewed as the "non-academic" option but times have changed and they can now lead to degree-level qualifications and higher accreditation, eventually, such as chartered status.
Employers will benefit through improved delivery of projects and the apprentice will benefit from exposure to industry best practice and by learning project management skills that will lead to professional qualifications.
What makes the apprenticeship programme a different route into project management is perhaps not that these new project managers won't have had a university education, but rather that they will not have specific industry experience.
There are plenty of arguments for and against whether a project manager needs industry knowledge and experience to be effective. Certainly, it isn't always an advantage as it can limit creative thinking and can mean project managers get too involved with the detail.
So the chances are that the apprenticeship programme could produce very effective, outward-looking project managers – only time will tell. I'd be interested to know what others think about project managers starting to come up though the apprenticeship route. What will that mean for already qualified project managers, what will it mean for employers and for the profession as a whole?
Note on the Project Management Apprenticeship Programme referred to above:
Apprentices are taught by project management training experts at Parallel Project Training, a fully accredited APM training provider in preparation for them sitting the APM Project Management Qualification (APM PMQ). This will also provide the Apprentices with their first step towards full membership of the APM. They can join the APM as Student members during their Apprenticeship and upgrade to Associate membership upon completion of their Apprenticeship. This teaching and learning will be delivered through a mixture of face-to-face and remote contacts with learning materials, objectives and progress monitoring supported by ILE’s Virtual Learning Environment.