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Plugging the skills gap – what skills are organisations looking for?

By Russell Kenrick, Managing Director at ILX Group | 3 August 2015

It doesn’t matter how well project managers understand the methodologies – if they can’t communicate with people in the project, fail to lead from the front and don’t have a sound understanding of the commercial place of the project within the organisation they will not be successful. How can we create these project manager stars? It is time for the project management profession to wake up to the pressing need to supplement accredited learning with non-accredited learning and arm staff with essential soft skills, communication and commercial skills.

Over a third of companies plan to hire staff with project management skills this year. Project management jumped to number 2 in the top 10 skills in demand for 2015, in Computerworld’s 2015 Forecast survey, up from the number 5 spot last year. There are not enough people out there with project management skills and there are even fewer who have these skills combined with organisational expertise. There is a real shortage of project and programme management stars who can effect real transformation through broad organisational or sector awareness combined with project management skills.

Lack of key resources and absence of executive sponsorship for building a talent pool of project and programme managers have resulted in many organisations relying on ‘project managers’ who actually have another day job in the business. They are not dedicated to the project as their main focus is their business as usual role. No-one should be surprised when projects are delayed and go over budget.

The difference between a good project manager and a great one is not just about the qualifications they have and the accredited learning they have participated in. Exceptional project and programme managers have competencies that lie outside traditional project management methodology – including emotional intelligence and leadership skills. Successful project managers also have attributes such as creativity, adaptability and interpersonalskills alongside good commercial skills that enable them to bring in a project on time and on budget.

Project management does not have a widely recognised, clearly defined career path. Some larger organisations in certain sectors will have many project managers that they are able to create a hierarchy and offer promotion through the ranks. However, most organisation of any size face the challenge of creating their own individual project manager career lifecycle that will keep the most effective project managers onside. So are you equipped to attract and retain the brightest and best project management talent?

To find out more about accredited and soft skills learning click here.

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