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Future Lives and Landscapes

The current and future landscape for the projects and programmes creating social benefits in the UK
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Future Lives and Landscapes

The power of projects is in their ability to drive change that improves people’s lives. But the profession itself must face challenges and seize opportunities to meet society’s needs.

As the chartered membership organisation for the project profession, we want to understand the current and future landscape for the projects and programmes creating social benefits in the UK*. What issues affect these projects, how much of an impact are they having, and where are those impacts most felt? And how must the project profession change, to continue making a positive difference to people’s lives?

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Projects in the UK – the current picture

We partnered with research company Censuswide to survey 1,000 project professionals in the UK who are working on projects intended to deliver a social benefit. Their answers paint a picture of the current delivery environment for social benefit projects across the country.

*A project that will help people live a longer life, a more fulfilling life, improve their living standards, improve their well-being, enhance social equality or reduce geographic inequality.

| Do you have enough funding at present to deliver to deadline and specified quality criteria?

Without proper funding, projects often face a difficult choice between compromising on time or on quality. Whichever is chosen, there is likely to be an impact on the benefits they’re able to deliver.

We found that in only three UK regions – Scotland, North West England, and South West England and the Channel Islands – did the majority of respondents have enough funding at the present time to deliver their social benefit project to deadline and to specified quality criteria. In every other part of the UK, the majority said they lacked sufficient funding to meet their original deadline, quality criteria or both.

The issue of funding is most keenly felt in the East of England, where 75% of respondents said they didn’t have the funding needed to deliver to deadline, quality criteria, or both.

When broken down by industry sector, the survey results showed that project professionals in the architecture, engineering and building sector are most likely to have sufficient funding to deliver their project to deadline and to desired quality standards (60%).

The ones least likely to have funding to meet deadline and quality targets are those in the sales, media and marketing sector (27%). The majority of project professionals in this sector state that their social benefit project did have enough funding to meet at least one of these criteria, however.

The sector with the highest proportion of respondents who say their current funding is insufficient to meet deadline and quality criteria is the education sector (5%).

| Does your region currently have the project skills necessary to deliver other, similar projects?

Only with investment and strategic prioritisation on project skillsets will individuals and organisations delivering social benefit projects be able to support proper inception, delivery and completion.

It is therefore concerning that there is nowhere in the UK where the majority of professionals working on social benefit projects feel there are no skills gaps in their region. In every part of the UK, the majority feel there are at least some skills gaps, with 6% of respondents reporting ‘significant’ skills gaps in their regions that would affect delivery of other local social benefit projects at the current time.

There are reasons to be optimistic however, as the vast majority of survey respondents feel these skills gaps will be addressed to allow more social benefit projects to be delivered in the next five years.

When looked at by sector, the results show that project professionals working in the architecture, engineering and building industry are most likely to feel their organisation has the right project skills to deliver its current social benefit project (63%). Most respondents in the arts and culture sector (56%) and finance sector (52%) also responded positively in this regard.

Those working in the healthcare sector are least likely, with 73% of respondents working on a health-related project saying their organisation doesn’t have the necessary skills to deliver it properly. However, most respondents working in healthcare indicate there are ‘some’ skills gaps, rather than ‘significant’ ones.

The sector that reports the highest proportion of ‘significant’ skills gaps for delivering social benefit projects is retail, catering and leisure (9%).


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| Are there currently enough project professionals in your region to deliver other, similar projects?

Policies and processes don’t deliver projects. People do. Having enough people to plan and deliver projects, programmes and portfolios is essential to improving lives in the UK.

The outlook for the nation is mixed when it comes to having enough professionals to manage projects that will deliver social benefits. Several regions report they have all the professionals they need. In others, the majority of respondents say they need at least some more. In every part of the UK, at least some respondents said many more project and programme professionals would be needed to deliver other socially focused projects at the present time. This response was most common in North West England, where it was expressed by 13% of respondents. However, the majority of those polled in the North West (60%) still feel the area does have enough project professionals to deliver more social benefit projects.

The picture by industry shows that project and programme practitioners in the architecture, engineering and building sector are most likely to feel their organisation has enough professionals to deliver their current social benefit projects to deadline and desired quality standards (50%). The legal sector also responded reasonably positively (44% said their organisation had enough project experts to deliver). Healthcare is least likely. Only 12% of survey respondents who work in this sector indicated their organisation has enough project experts to deliver current social projects to deadline and specified quality standards.


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