While national economies will fluctuate in the year ahead—some expanding, others contracting—they will share one constant: a strong demand for project managers.
Project management will continue a decade-long trajectory of growth. From 2010 to 2020, as the profession grows by over US$6.6 trillion, the global economy is seeing 15.7 million new project management roles created in seven project-intensive industries, according to PMI’s 2013 Project Management Talent Gap Report.
Still, some countries have greater project practitioner demands than others. PMI’s 2013 Project Management Talent Gap Report shows that in 10 countries with established or quickly developing project-intensive industries, project management roles are expected to increase by over 13.4 million between 2010 and 2020, numbering more than 41.5 million by 2020.
As the need for project managers expands, so must practitioners’ skills and knowledge of global standards. Their organizations will benefit, as will the project managers themselves.
Here is the career outlook in the eight countries with the biggest need for project management skills.
Australia: Slow But Steady
Economic Outlook: Sunny
2015 GDP Growth Forecast: 2.9%
Median Project Practitioner Salary: US$134,658
Sectors to Watch: Mining, energy
This commodity-rich country, dodging the worst of the global economic recession, enjoyed a mining boom over the past decade, fueled largely by Chinese demand. However, as China’s need for minerals tapered off, projects in Australia’s mining sector, which accounts for about 8 percent of the country’s GDP, have slowed.
Still, things aren’t standing still. “Despite a cooling of the mining and construction sector, this is still the dominant area for project managers in Australia,” says Dave Wright, PMP, managing director, QVC Solutions, Brisbane, Australia.
That dominance is reflected in reimbursement. Australian project managers in the resources industry have a higher average salary than project managers in any other industry. That’s particularly noteworthy given that the median salary for project practitioners is higher here than any other country, according to PMI’s Project Management Salary Survey—Eighth Edition.
While mining cools slightly, other industries, including energy and agriculture, are heating up, according to a 2014 Deloitte report. There are also growth opportunities for sectors like IT that play supporting roles to mining and other industries.
For practitioners eager to secure these jobs, Mr. Wright emphasizes the importance of the Project Management Professional (PMP)® credential. “The mining and construction sectors typically use A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), so certification through PMI will provide a competitive advantage,” he says.
Brazil: Speed Bumps Ahead
Economic Outlook: Poor
2015 GDP Growth Forecast: 2.2%
Median Project Practitioner Salary: US$58,963
Sectors to Watch: IT, financial services, Telecommunications
Brazil’s economy has hit a rough patch: It officially entered a recession in August 2014, after two consecutive quarters of falling outputs. While many analysts were predicting growth of 3 percent in 2015 a year ago, those estimates have been scaled back.
Yet the country’s unemployment rate has decreased to near record lows, from more than 13 percent in 2003 to around 5 percent in 2014. To set themselves apart, “project managers in Brazil should continuously invest in training, gain experience and develop their soft skills,” says João Gama Neto, PMI-ACP, PMP, professor of project management, INPG Business School, São Paulo, Brazil.
Despite the current slowdown, the Brazilian government sees smoother sailing ahead, with the economy bolstered by slowing inflation and credit expansion, plus a recovery in mining and oil output. IT, financial services, telecommunications, construction and the government are among the largest users of project management, Mr. Gama says.
“I believe that 2015 will be better than 2014, and we will have an increase in job opportunities in the second half,” he says.
China: A Slowed Expansion
Economic Outlook: Fair
2015 GDP Growth Forecast: 7.3%
Median Project Practitioner Salary: US$27,156
Sectors to Watch: Manufacturing
With about 8.1 million practitioner roles opening through 2020, China is home to a greater expansion in project management than any other country. Project management employment in China will increase by more than 33 percent, according to PMI’s 2013 Project Management Talent Gap Report.
While China’s economic growth is expected to dip from 7.4 percent in 2014 to 7.3 percent in 2015, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the country’s labor market remains strong.
The demand for project managers must be filled with skilled practitioners, says Richard Gelders, PMP, co-founder and managing director, KMR Oriental Group, Shanghai, China. “There are many job opportunities for project managers in China and not enough qualified project managers to fulfill the demand,” he says. “Many companies are growing and developing fast, and most industries need project managers.”
Manufacturing (such as the automotive industry) and digital commerce have a particularly high demand, he says.
Project management in China has greatly matured, Mr. Gelders notes. “I feel positive about the changes in project management in China,” he says. “A lot of companies have recognized project management as a key skill. More will follow.”
India: Help Wanted
Economic Outlook: Sunny
2015 GDP Growth Forecast: 5.9%
Median Project Practitioner Salary: US$27,052
Sectors to Watch: IT, construction, healthcare, oil and gas
India is close on China’s heels in terms of greatest need for project managers. With about 4 million project management roles created in India this decade, employment for these practitioners will increase a whopping 60 percent by 2020, according to PMI’s 2013 Project Management Talent Gap Report.
Overall, India saw a 34 percent spike in the number of people employed from 2005 to 2013. It now has the strongest hiring intentions globally, according to ManpowerGroup.
In 2015, India’s economic growth should approach 6 percent, the OECD predicts. From 2011 to 2020, it will average around 9.2 percent, according to Dun & Bradstreet. That surge will be spurred by the massive infrastructure investments of the new government, which the world’s largest democratic nation voted into power last year.
“The new government is planning to devote more resources to IT and infrastructure projects,” says Nilanjan Chanda, PMP, senior delivery manager, RS Software, Calcutta, India. “Project and program managers are required to bring efficiency in government projects that may be under public scrutiny.”
To take advantage, job seekers must have the right skills. Over three in five Indian employers report difficulty filling jobs, ManpowerGroup reports.
Because technology constantly evolves, project managers need to demonstrate an aptitude with agile approaches and the latest technology, Mr. Chanda says. “This is the major challenge IT project managers face around getting hired and promoted.”
In addition to the country’s ever-strong IT sector, India’s top hiring industries include project-rich sectors like healthcare, and oil and gas.
Mexico: Growing Maturity
Economic Outlook: Sunny
2015 GDP Growth Forecast: 4.1%
Median Project Practitioner Salary: US$44,763
Sectors to Watch: Energy, transportation, telecommunications
Latin America’s second-largest economy will be strengthened by ongoing economic reforms—especially in the energy and telecommunications sectors, according to the International Monetary Fund. Project practitioners should reap the rewards.
“With the reforms and their implementation over the next year, there will be an explosion in the need for project managers in the energy and telecommunications sectors,” says Francisco Herrera, PMP, program manager, Coppel SA de CV, Culiacán, Mexico. This will lead to new infrastructure projects that will result in “exponential growth” for project management positions, Mr. Herrera adds.
That demand follows a maturing project management landscape. “More organizations recognize that project management is necessary to achieve business results,” he says. “The better prepared will have the best promotions, positions and salaries.”
Increased responsibility is reflected in salaries. In Mexico, a project manager who oversees an initiative with more than 20 team members makes 29 percent more than one with fewer than five team members. Moreover, a project manager overseeing a project with a budget greater than US$10 million makes 64 percent more than one with a project under US$100,000, according to PMI’s 2013 Salary Survey.
There should be plenty of opportunities for practitioners to take advantage of those statistics. Last year, the Mexican government launched a US$590 billion infrastructure plan that includes 743 projects in sectors such as energy, communications and transportation.
Nigeria: Diversified Opportunities
Economic Outlook: Sunny
2015 GDP Growth Forecast: 6.5%
Median Project Practitioner Salary: US$35,707
Sectors to Watch: Oil, IT, Agriculture
After a decade of sustained growth, Africa’s most populous nation boasts the continent’s largest GDP, thanks in part to its increasingly diversified economy.
Nigeria—Africa’s biggest oil producer—will continue to grow as it repairs major oil pipelines and expands production in non-oil sectors, according to the International Monetary Fund. The key non-oil sectors are agriculture, which employs about 70 percent of the labor force, IT, trade and services.
With many projects launching, the country needs project managers with strong planning skills, says Deji West, finance director, Afren, Lagos, Nigeria.
For project practitioners looking for work in Nigeria, Mr. West says the “outlook is positive,” adding that there’s a clear way to get ahead: attaining the PMP® credential. The research backs him up: Nigerian project practitioners with the PMP credential earn about 22 percent more than others, according to PMI’s 2013 Salary Survey.
While Mr. West finds that the Nigerian government would benefit from a greater use of project management standards and practices, “multinational organizations have embraced project management and use it constantly,” he says. “This is creating a better experience base in Nigeria.”
United Kingdom: Surging Forward
Economic Outlook: Sunny
2015 GDP Growth Forecast: 2.7%
Median Project Practitioner Salary: US$90,666
Sectors to Watch: IT, construction
The U.K. economy has been speeding up since 2012—and looks to keep up the pace in 2015, according to PwC. Last year, not only did the U.K. unemployment rate hit its lowest level in six years, but the rate of employment equaled the record set in 2005.
That’s good news for project practitioners in the United Kingdom, which is seeing a demand for almost 1 million project managers through 2020.
The tech industry has been a particular beneficiary of the economic upswing, KPMG reports. More than two-fifths of all U.K. tech companies plan to hire by mid-2015.
Project managers will need to handle the changes typical of the tech industry. “Change management skills are being asked for more and more,” says Paul Yeomans, managing director, Manifestly Important, York, England. “Project managers who are strong in this area will be well placed to advance.” The construction sector also will see an expanding need for project managers, he adds.
“The outlook is positive, with the jobs picture for project managers continuing to improve in line with the economic recovery,” Mr. Yeomans says.
However, that also comes with an uptick in job competition, which Mr. Yeomans sees as the main challenge for job seekers. “It is becoming increasingly important for individuals to differentiate themselves with extra knowledge, skills and qualifications,” he says.
United States: Firmer Ground
Economic Outlook: Sunny
2015 GDP Growth Forecast: 3.5%
Median Project Practitioner Salary: US$108,000
Sectors to Watch: Finance, construction, healthcare
After an unsteady recovery from the global recession, the world’s largest economy now stands on firmer ground. The United States should see growth of about 3 percent in 2015 and 2016—which would be its fastest within the past decade, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Project managers are feeling that growth spurt, too. The U.S. demand for project practitioners is expanding by more than 12 percent, resulting in almost 6.2 million jobs in 2020, according to PMI’s 2013 Talent Gap Report.
In 2014, U.S. employment levels finally approached their pre-recession highs, according to a Deloitte report. Employers now intend to hire at their strongest rate in over six years, ManpowerGroup reports. Between 2012 and 2022, U.S. employment should increase by almost 11 percent, with healthcare accounting for almost one-third of new jobs—more than any other sector.
Project managers in the United States—whose median salary ranks third in the world after Australia and Switzerland—will benefit from a hiring push in project-rich sectors.
“As companies look to gain efficiencies and improve their bottom line, the awareness of project management as a valuable skill and the demand for skilled project managers have definitely increased in the United States,” says Ruth Stevens, PMP, director, Grant Thornton LLP, New York, New York, USA. Ms. Stevens says she has noticed an increasing number of job listings indicating that a PMP® credential is either a “definite plus” or “required.”
In addition to healthcare, Ms. Stevens says, financial services and insurance are among the largest, most visible sectors with a project manager demand. With construction jobs up to 6 million in June 2014 (up from 5.4 million in January 2011), that sector is also in need: A January 2014 survey of Associated General Contractors of America members shows that almost half (48 percent) were having trouble filling project manager/supervisor roles.