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Skills development must be at the heart of government projects

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The Confederation of British Industry (CBI), in partnership with Turner & Townsend, have published Programmes with Purpose, delivering success in government’s major projects; a positive take on closing the gaps in existing knowledge and approaches to project delivery.

As the chartered organisation for the project profession, we were pleased to support the findings by sharing data, and to be cited as noted expert stakeholders in the report. Indeed, it mirrors many of our research findings, including factors within the Dynamic Conditions for Project Success report, which was published this year. A key theme of the CBI report was the need to maintain and share skills across the Government Major Project Portfolio (GMPP) which operates in a wide range of industries and sectors. By speaking with those on the ground, it highlights the important issue of skills transfer, development and the skills pipeline that underpins this; how do we share best practice in a rapidly changing profession? Especially when major project professionals operate in such different environments.

This issue was highlighted in our 2019 Golden Thread research, which found 32 per cent of businesses were already concerned about having access to enough people with the right project management skills and capabilities.

This was answered in the CBI report by their recommendation of a Major Projects Playbook, which brings together competing approaches to major projects delivery and provides a regularly updated source of best practice and insights. We advocate that this must have Chartered Project Professionals at its heart.

In addition, the report goes further to recommend that the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) grows it capacity to provide the ‘hand on the shoulder’ for project professionals in the field, embedding lessons and guidance on a rolling basis. As we deliver ever more complex projects that push the boundaries, we are learning every day, and this could be a game-changer. Why save lessons learnt in a drawer until the next big project if they can be supporting those across a portfolio now?

While the report explores many themes, too many to talk about here, all focused on delivering sustainable, efficient, innovative and outcomes-orientated programmes, at its heart, a repetition of collaboration and clarity emerges.

  • By collaborating with our key suppliers and stakeholders, and bringing them more on board, we can become more efficient.
  • By being clear on the digital future of our projects, we can be more sustainable and innovative.
  • By working with those not just in our organisation, but by learning from one other, we can be more innovative, learn lessons faster and not repeat mistakes.

This is a welcome step forward and we echo the importance of ensuring we have the right people with the right skills ready to deliver our ever more ambitious projects. This was an ambitious but timely publication from the CBI. It provides clarity for now and into the future, and highlights the real need for Government to invest in project management skills.

Read the full report Programmes with Purpose, delivering success in government’s major projects here.


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