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The Golden Thread

A Study of the Contribution of the Project Profession to the UK’s Economy
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| A study of the contribution of the project profession to the UK’s economy.

This study assesses the contribution that projects and project management make to the UK economy by quantifying the value of the project profession.

By updating previous findings in the context of global disruptions like the COVID-19 pandemic, political uncertainty and increasing pressures to address climate change, this research provides current insights and informs discussions on the profession's future.

Through robust methodologies, including data analysis, surveys and expert interviews, the report uncovers and highlights the role of project management in addressing evolving challenges.

Commissioned by APM and conducted by PwC Research, the 2024 study provides insights into trends, growth sectors and challenges the profession faces. This research contributes to the ongoing discourse on the profession's future, reflecting its enduring importance to the UK economy. 

In this study:

| Research findings show significant growth in the project management profession compared to the previous study.

In 2024, the profession employs approximately 2.32 million full-time equivalents (FTEs), contributing £186.8 billion annually to the UK economy. This represents an 8% increase in FTEs and a 19% increase in annual project management GVA compared to the 2019 baseline. 

Professional and business services emerge as the largest contributors to project management GVA, followed by sectors like construction and IT, which have experienced substantial growth. Despite strenuous market conditions, the profession remains optimistic about future growth, with a majority of surveyed businesses predicting increased project-based activity and higher average project budgets over the next three years. 

| The future of the project profession

Our findings show optimism for the future of the project profession, with over 50% of businesses anticipating an increase in project activity and budgets over the next three years.

This growth is attributed to a broader recognition of project management's value and the expectation of larger, more challenging, and complex projects.

However, challenges such as political uncertainty, talent shortages, and concerns about stress and wellbeing in the workplace persist. Bridging the talent gap, prioritising diversity and inclusion and fostering a supportive work environment are crucial.

Additionally, promoting the Chartered Project Professional standard and enhancing public perceptions of project management are seen as pathways for further progression in the profession's development.  

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| Why is this study important?

The study explores the critical role projects play in addressing contemporary challenges and anticipating the way forward. The report underlines the valuable presence of project professionals in driving change through their diverse skills and responsibilities, which enable the delivery of outcomes and solutions to complex problems.

Building upon the insights of the 2019 Golden Thread study, the research highlights the increasing relevance of the project profession beyond traditional sectors like construction and engineering, emphasising its cross-sectoral relevance.

The study also anticipates a growing diversity in project types and professionals involved, with estimates suggesting an increase in project management-oriented employment globally by 2030. 

| Sector insights

Professional Services : Turner and Townsend

Turner & Townsend is a leading global programme management and construction consultancy that supports organisations who invest in, own and operate assets. They have a strong track record in delivering some of the UK’s most challenging infrastructure, building and regeneration programmes.

Examples of their work include the £420m Port of Aberdeen South Harbour expansion,
a decade-long project to restore and transform London’s iconic Battersea Power Station, and the development of one of the largest purpose built COVID-19 testing laboratories in the UK.

Download the case study

Project Management Consultancy : MIGSO-PCUBED

MIGSO-PCUBED is a leading consultancy dedicated to project, programme, portfolio and change management. Since 1991, it has pioneered the field of project management consulting and PMO as a service. It has global reach, delivering R&D, IT and transformation projects for industrial, public sector and financial services clients in North America, Europe, Australia and Southeast Asia. 

In the UK, MIGSO-PCUBED has become a trusted delivery partner for organisations across the
Financial Services, Technology, Manufacturing, Energy and the Public Sector, helping them to
deliver their projects and to build their project management capability.

Download the case study

The Golden Thread 2019 archive - download the launch reports

Launch report

How to cite this research
PwC. (2019). The Golden Thread: Launch Report. Association for Project Management.

The Regional Picture

How to cite this research
PwC. (2019). The Golden Thread: Regional Report. Association for Project Management.

Three Key Sectors

How to cite this research
PwC. (2019). The Golden Thread: Sector Report. Association for Project Management.