Wanted: Competant Project Managers

Over the past few years there has been a significant push, especially in the United States on the importance of math and science education for the young.  There has been an understanding that emerging nations like India and China have passed the United States in graduating engineers and scientists from the university.  The math and science shortage has been felt in places like the UK, U.S. , and even Australia.  The latest stories have spotlighted the skills shortage overall in the Project Management field.

The shortage in very good, and competent project managers has significant implications for large scale projects moving forward.  The downside of having issues with project management is the reality that project overruns and extending time estimates on projects have negative effects for progress in building and other projects.  Scope creep is an effect that starts to affect large scale projects.

The article spotlights some findings that they studied in India with the help of PMI India and KPMG.  India is in a building phase in their country life cycle.  Lots of new infrastructure is needed to handle the more than 1 billion people that inhabit their country.  People will start to expect certain amenities as people start to gain a little bit of wealth and move towards the middle class.

There is an expected 1 trillion dollars in infrastructure that will be spent in the next four years.  80% of the developers of the different projects are unable to find good project managers to execute this increased infrastructure build.  The study that KMPG facilitated found that “some projects are delayed by external factors such as land acquisition or regulatory approvals which are beyond the control of the executing agency, a majority of projects are delayed by factors that can be controlled at the project level through proper planning and project management.”

While this article focuses on India, it seems to me that this is a world wide problem.  Just like there is an aversion to math and science all over the world, project managers have become something that has been very hard to find.  Project managers have a lot of responsibility on different projects.  They are forced to be “experts” in statistical analysis, manufacturing, operations, and forecasting among other things.  They need to be able to multi-task on many different jobs to be successful.

The long term effect of a shortage of math and science and project management could be catastrophic.  China is ahead of the curve by having 106 universities that focus on project management and their skills.  All countries need to focus its efforts on these skills in order to keep up with proper infrastructure.  We are getting to a point in America where we need new bridges and roads, and if every project we have continues to have scope creep, we will put our economy into a further tailspin.

Do you think that having a skills shortage for project managers is a problem?  What are the long term implications? How do you fix this problem?

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