A study of the contribution of project management and projects to the UK's economy and society


There is increasing recognition that projects and project management are no longer confined to the traditional domains of construction and heavy engineering, and large capital investments.

Instead, project management can be seen to be a ‘golden thread’ helping to drive quality, efficiency and the effectiveness of strategic change in all sectors and organisations, ranging from the contributions being generated within local schools  and charitable organisations through to central government and major technology programmes.


There are many definitions of ‘a project’ and ‘project management’ and it is critical when measuring value and impact that all contributors use the same point(s) of reference. Therefore, for the purpose of this study the research team needed to take an inclusive yet contained approach to capture the essence of the project management discipline. It is known that the role of projects is changing, and that many projects are in fact rolling programmes of change.

As such, the research team has defined a project as follows:

A temporary, non-routine endeavour or rolling programme of change designed to produce a distinct product, service or end result. It has a defined beginning and end, a specific scope, a ring-fenced budget, involves an identified and potentially dedicated team with a project manager in charge and is undertaken to achieve planned objectives, typically to bring about
generation and creation of outputs and outcomes. It is distinct from ‘business as usual’.

The research team has defined project management as follows:

The application of processes, methods, knowledge, skills and experience to achieve the project objectives and bring about planned outputs and/or outcomes. This includes initiating the project, planning, executing, controlling, quality assuring and closing the work of an identified and dedicated team according to a specified budget and timeframe. It is important to note that where this report refers to project management and the project profession it includes project, programme and portfolio management.




8.9% OF UK GVA


It is important to note that where this report refers to project management and project profession it includes project, programme and portfolio management


The research concludes that those employed and working as project managers – the profession – make a significant contribution to the UK economy, with approximately 2.13 million FTEs employed in the UK project management sector and the profession generating £156.5bn of annual GVA. This represents 7.9 per cent of UK employment (FTEs) and 8.9 per cent of UK GVA.


This study is an attempt to test an assumption: namely that the size of the project profession in the UK is significant and growing. The 21st century has continued to witness a surge in the recognition of the role and importance of projects to the economy, society and environment. As organisations strive to get to grips with the digital age, as the need to innovate becomes critical for success and as the drive for projects to become more effective and efficient escalates, the demand for projects to be designed, managed and directed by skilled project managers has become fundamental.



While the aim of this study as to create a baseline estimate of the value and contribution of the profession of project management, the study also enables comparisons with other professions, industries and sectors to give an element of perspective to the research team's estimates. This demonstrates the relevant scale of projectification relative to other economic activities.


For the most part, businesses across all sectors were optimistic about the future of project management. Fifty per cent of our survey respondents expected that the number of projects they undertake would remain at a similar level over the next three years and 40 per cent predicted growth in project-based activity. This PwC analysis confirms APM’s most recent salary survey, which showed rising confidence and optimism within the profession despite the wider organisational and economic challenges.

Expected change in project management work

Expected change in project budget size

Which of the following challenges, if any, will you experience in the next three years?

More than half (52 per cent) of businesses surveyed had experienced challenges associated with the uncertainty caused by government policy, with just over one third (35 per cent) ranking this as the top challenge of all those experienced in the last three years. This challenge is forecast to remain, with 56 per cent of businesses considering it to also be a challenge in the next three years.




Aerospace & Defence




The research team recognises that this report is just beginning to scratch the surface of an important area that needs to be better understood. It sees this as a starting point for ongoing and further research and exploration and hopes it will act as a catalyst for a call to action in a number of key areas:

  • For UK PLC to actively and clearly recognise the value of projects and project management to the economy and society. The UK’s senior leaders and decision makers, government and academic audiences need to support APM in the promotion and resourcing of the profession going forward.
  • For APM, with the support of its members, to consider undertaking a follow-up analysis at sector level to explore the growth opportunities and challenges faced by organisations, large and small, in key sectors.
  • For universities, colleges, training providers and large corporates to work closely with APM to map and close the skills and talent gap and to develop appropriate mechanisms to create an effective talent pipeline to fulfil this growing capability requirement

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