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APM launches ‘Eliminating Modern Slavery from Projects’ research

APM’s Research Fund has sponsored a new research investigation, ‘Eliminating Modern Slavery from Projects’ carried out by a team from the Universities of Warwick, Leeds and University College London. The research report helps to raise awareness of the issue of modern slavery and to understand how project practices need to change in order to eliminate it.  

Modern slavery involves the recruitment, movement, harbouring or receiving of people through any means for the purpose of exploitation. International Labour Organization figures suggest that there are 24 million victims of modern slavery or forced labour around the world at any one time, with a substantial proportion of these working on project-related activities.

Projects are particularly susceptible to modern slavery as they have complex flows of materials and labour that need to be constantly reinvented for each unique project context.

The investigation finds that the key to eliminating modern slavery is to give individuals working on projects the competence and confidence to spot it and to know what action to take when they do. This requires support at an organisational, sectoral and legislative level.

Three recommendations are put forward for academics, project practitioners and professional membership organisations:

  • Academics – to continue looking at application frameworks and further explore the role of multi-stakeholder initiatives for eliminating modern slavery
  • Project practitioners – to look at cost-effective solutions for eliminating modern slavery that ‘piggy-back’ on existing project practice and project governance
  • Professional membership organisations – to recognise their unique role in eliminating modern slavery in projects

Daniel Nicholls, APM research manager, says: “This topical research is key in helping to raise awareness of modern slavery across the wider project profession. It highlights how projects are particularly susceptible, providing guidance and support for project professionals and organisations.”  

To understand how projects need to change, the research team undertook a Delphi exercise - a forecasting process framework based on the results of multiple rounds of questionnaires sent to a panel of experts - with experts representing project practitioners, and professional membership organisations, as well as academic researchers and individual experts. Several rounds of questionnaires were sent out and the anonymous responses were aggregated and shared with the group after each round. 

Research lead Professor Naomi Brookes said: “Our Delphi event was a fantastic opportunity to bring together experts from across the landscape. We involved clients, contractors, professional project organisations, lobby groups and key government bodies. The multi-disciplinary conversation that resulted was instrumental in creating the rich findings of this report.”

The research team included:

  • Prof. Naomi Brookes (principal investigator) University of Warwick
  • Prof. Jacqui Glass University College London
  • Dr Armando Castro University College London
  • Prof. Giorgio Locatelli University of Leeds
  • Dr Gloria Oliomogbe University of Leeds

You can view the ‘Eliminating Modern Slavery from Projects’ research report here

To find out more about APM’s Research Fund visit here.

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