Where Have All the Project Managers Gone? -

Where Have All the Project Managers Gone?

By Stephen Alfano, CSM

Run a project manager job search for your location on Glassdoor.com or Indeed.com right now. Chances are good you’ll find there are at least 250 openings. [In Sacramento, on 10/18/2018, I found 936 project manager opportunities on Glassdoor and 256 on Indeed.]

Widen the search area to include your state or province and you’ll see the need for project managers expands exponentially. [In California, on 10/18/2018, there were 20,256 project manager jobs posted on Glassdoor and 5,322 on Indeed.]

Even though I wasn’t a math major in college, and I’m nowhere near being a labor statistician, I can see that job openings in the thousands translates into a huge, human resource and talent gap. This makes one wonder where all the available project managers have gone—in short, they are busy working elsewhere, or they have retired.

According to the Project Management Institute (PMI) in a report generated five years ago, the shortage of available project managers is right on track with a trend that started in 2008. The report states:

“[through] the decade ending in 2020, 15.7 million new project management roles will be created]” in the U.S. alone with another 13.4 million growing out of 10 other large job markets, including Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

In other words, the shortage is worldwide…which makes me wonder who’s working to fill the global gap. (Hopefully everyone.)

Regardless of who or how many folks are on the task of filling that gap, resolving the shortage is paramount. And the solution to do so, in my humble opinion, needs to start and be sustainable at the local level—through workforce development initiatives that are driven by diversity and economic equality outreach and education campaigns (subject matter that has been near and dear to my heart for a long time).

When I published the blog post, “Why Workforce Development is Everybody’s Business” last October, I hoped my narrative would spark change in the Sacramento business and nonprofit communities. I thought I made my request flexible enough to appeal to both change agents and policymakers to get busy building up the capability and capacity of the regions’ employable talent base. I believed then and even more so now that to have a sustainable workforce development initiative in any community, you need to ensure there is a certified and available pool of highly-skilled resources (including project managers) ready in the queue.

Having these highly-skilled resources in reserve helps fuel innovation and income growth in the marketplace. It brings tangible benefits to the business and public sector leaders looking for options beyond the conventional (and ingrained) approach of binding economic empowerment goals with commercial development tax incentives and concessions.

Perhaps my expectations for a groundswell were too high back then. Moreover, a year later, especially with the unemployment rate around 3.7% in the country and the Sacramento area (a 50-year low!), my rallying cry must sound a bit unnecessary. But I assure you, and most economists and human resources professionals would agree that dismissing the need to build and support a pipeline of upskilled and qualified candidates is foolishness. Prosperity comes in cycles. The next economic downturn could be right around the corner. Planning and preparing for that event isn’t an option. More important, it will take a superhuman effort to minimize the fallout and prevent another great recession. In the meantime, the need for project managers will continue to grow.

Again according to the PMI, this time from the Project Management Job Growth and Talent Gap – 2017–2027 report: “[by] 2027, employers will need 87.7 million individuals working in project management oriented roles.” So, if you live in the Sacramento region and are considering a career in the Project Management field, start here.

About the Author: Stephen Alfano is an Organizational Change Management Consultant and Communications Expert. He has over 30 years of experience leading and managing internal and external marketing initiatives for both private and public-sector clients. His résumé includes providing both new business and business process improvement services to Apple, American Express, AT&T, California Department of Transportation, Chevron, Entergy, Levi Strauss & Co., Louisiana Office of Tourism, Mattel, Microsoft, Novell, SONY, Sutter Health, and Wells Fargo. Stephen currently works as an Executive Consultant with KAI Partners, Inc., providing change management and communications expertise and support services to California State Departments.

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