Our 2018 survey shows a bright outlook for project management despite concerns about the challenging economic climate we’re operating in. Overall the future looks positive, with 66 per cent expecting pay rises and growth across their organisations.
The benefits of being part of such a thriving profession are evident, said John McGlynn, APM chair.
However, he emphasised, as a profession we still have our challenges. “The gender wage gap remains at 30 per cent and the impact of mega-trends such as digital will require us to adapt and change in how we operate. There is still much work to be done.”
Across the survey, there was evidence of a pinch in wages compared to previous years.
Longer contracts of lower value and a marked increase in younger professionals responding to the survey has seen the average salary fall from £50,000 in 2016 to £47,500 in 2018. However, there was a 13 per cent increase in under-35s earning more than £35,000.
On average, results showed a largely stable income across all roles within the profession. Where there were changes, though, it highlighted a squeeze in wages.
This could be seen in both senior and junior positions. Consultants fared worst, with more earning under £50,000 than in 2016.
Despite the pay pinch, high earners continued to be a significant part of the mix, with 17 per cent of respondents overall earning more than £70,000 and six per cent in excess of £100,000. The survey also suggested that excellent opportunities are still available. One third said they were likely to change employer over the next 12 months and two-thirds believed their income would increase.
The gender wage gap remains in the profession, however, with women continuing to earn 30 per cent less than men on average. Results showed 49 per cent of women earned less than £40,000, compared to just 27 per cent of men. Changing attitudes in industry, returnship programmes and flexible working opportunities may contribute to a gradual decrease in the wage gap in the future. Teri Okoro, chair of APM’s Women in Project Management (WiPM) SIG, believes that tackling a lack of transparency around progression could help reduce the disparity.
“Unconscious bias flourishes when the rules of the games are not explicit,” said Teri.
“Some organisations have reviewed their processes, resulting in more positive outcomes. Others still have to update theirs and build in the inclusion nudges that alter behaviours and prevent managers promoting in their own image.”
Skills, training and qualifications
Stakeholder management and communication came top of the list of the most important skills for a project practitioner. This demonstrates we haven’t been replaced by robots… at least, not yet, said Vince Hines, managing director Wellingtone, emphasising: “It’s people and great teamwork that deliver projects.”
The vast majority of respondents held a project-management related qualification, the most common being the APM Project Management Qualification (PMQ). A third of high earners (over £70,000) had a chartered qualification, significantly higher than among the lower pay bands.
A greater percentage of females held undergraduate degrees than men, at 38 per cent compared to 31 per cent. Just two per cent of respondents held a PhD. The health sector saw the highest proportion of professionals with a master’s degree or postgraduate certificate, at 48 per cent, followed by the education sector at 41 per cent.
When it came to searching for a new role, salary remained key for many, with 29 per cent listing it as the most important feature, followed by diverse and interesting work at 17 per cent. Training and development opportunities were particularly important to young people, building on last year’s survey when .
Brexit and economic expectations
Respondents reported feeling positive about their own economic prospects (positive 43 per cent; negative 15 per cent). Similarly they were optimistic for their own organisation (positive 42 per cent; negative 19 per cent). However, the outlook was gloomier when respondents were asked about their prognosis for the economy as a whole, with just 24 per cent feeling positive and 42 per cent negative. This may reflect the belief that project management is a desired skill set in times of transformation and change. Younger practitioners, however, were much more optimistic than their older counterparts.
Respondents gave a huge vote of confidence in the future of the project management profession, with a net 60 per cent saying they felt optimistic about it.
In terms of Brexit, there was a five percentage point increase since 2017 to 52 per cent of those who believed it would have neither a negative or positive impact on their career. This shows that two years after the vote, there is still considerable uncertainty about the process of exiting the EU. However, 26 per cent still believed it would have a negative impact – double the number who believed it would have a positive impact.
Most markets appeared to view Brexit negatively, with the retail/wholesale and education sectors the most pessimistic.
Last but by no means least, the survey asked which of seven mega-trends affecting project delivery people felt would have the greatest impact on how we work by 2030. These mega-trends were identified in a joint Future of Project Management research report published last year by APM, UCL and Arup. Respondents believed that digital construction and project complexity would have the biggest impact, closely followed by changing corporate culture and global and virtual teams.
When launching the Future of Project Management report, lead author Rob Leslie Carter said the idea was to produce something that really challenged people to think more proactively about the forces shaping our longer-term future. Your survey responses suggest it’s already achieving this objective. As Rob added: “APM is in an amazing position to set its own imaginative future agenda that could be revolutionary rather than evolutionary.”
The survey: who, when and where
YouGov carried out the survey for APM, supported by Wellingtone Project Management. It was conducted between December 2017 and February 2018 and received more than 5,000 responses from both APM and non-APM members across the profession.