2018 Jobs Report
In A Time Of Change, Demand For Project Talent Will Keep Rising
BY KATE ROCKWOOD
ILLUSTRATION BY SAM PEET
Aerospace and Defense
Where the Action Is
5 Countries to Watch
Gig to Gig:
The Freelance Outlook
How to Stand Out
Salaries Around the World
The outlook is better than it's been in years.
The global economy is surging—boosting job markets across sectors and continents. The global GDP growth projection of 3.7 percent for this year represents a slight uptick from 2017, according to the International Monetary Fund. Of course, project professionals know they're in a good spot: 22 million new project-oriented jobs will be created between 2017 and 2027, according to PMI's Project Management Job Growth and Talent Gap report.
But not all industries are on the same footing or looking for the same kinds of project talent. Healthcare organizations might demand different skills than a hirer at a telecom. And while more than half of CEOs plan to increase headcount, they're having trouble finding the right skills, according to PwC's 2017 CEO Survey. But all sectors are looking to transform, which means there's a need for organizations to add innovative thinkers and talent that can help them increase their digital footprints.
Read on for sector-specific insights and advice from the trenches on what it takes to get hired or promoted—right now.
22 million new project-oriented jobs will be created between 2017 and 2027.
Source: PMI's Project Management Job Growth and Talent Gap report
It's a boom time for telecom projects as companies push mobile connectivity in emerging markets and manage consumers’ addiction-level smartphone use in developed countries. As a result, opportunities are popping up across all telecom subsectors, such as device manufacturers, infrastructure companies and wireline/broadband carriers, according to Deloitte's 2017 Telecommunications Industry Outlook.
“Agile approaches—especially scrum—are becoming very hot within the sector. You can see colleagues rushing to acquire these skills so they can stay competitive as more jobs open up,” says Oluseyi Olaolu Lala, PMP, manager, internet protocol planning and enterprise solutions, 9mobile, Abuja, Nigeria.
With innovation the norm, portfolio adjustments have become a constant reality. For instance, many telecom carriers are facing significant decreases in their basic communication service revenues, with drop-offs in recent years as high as 30 percent in SMS messaging and 20 percent in international voice calls, according to a 2017 PwC study. Behind the declines is a surging demand for messaging apps.
Project professionals who embrace change and uncertainty are in the best position to capitalize on big career opportunities, says Manuel Salero Coca, PMP, program manager director, Latin America, Huawei Technologies Co., Mexico City, Mexico.
“Agile approaches—especially scrum—are becoming very hot within the sector.”
—Oluseyi Olaolu Lala, PMP, 9mobile, Abuja, Nigeria
“Telecom organizations are increasingly looking for project managers who are masters of change management, transformation and agile approaches,” he says. “The best thing that project managers can do today to get hired is to learn about adjacent industries and practices, and be open and flexible enough in their skills to drive projects that might look radically different than ones they've managed in the past.”
Innovation Pays Off
The drumbeat of digital upheaval continues to be strong in the financial sector, despite complicated requirements and ever-shifting industry regulations. With 80 percent of financial services organizations investing significantly or moderately in new digital technologies or channels, according to a 2017 Accenture survey, the right talent is sorely needed to provide value from projects. But in 2018, project managers need more than budget control and scheduling skills to get ahead in this fast-changing sector.
“Finance organizations are looking for a willingness to become a subject matter expert.”
—Francois Passet, PMP, HSBC, London, England
“Hard skills are always important, of course. But organizations are really looking for project professionals who have an innovative delivery mindset to drive change across the business,” says Darryl Isip, PMP, digital delivery director, Credit Suisse, Zurich, Switzerland.
And it's only a matter of time before external factors impact ongoing projects. Mr. Isip points to Brexit, the uptick in data security breaches, shifting capitalization requirements and ongoing regulatory changes as just a few items on the risk register that are top of mind for finance project professionals.
“In the past, a project manager could just focus on delivering projects, but today finance organizations are looking for a willingness to become a subject matter expert,” says Francois Passet, PMP, global human resources portfolio manager, HSBC, London, England. “Previous expertise is not necessarily expected—just a willingness to dive in and learn the subject on the fly.”
Nearly 30 percent of financial services executives believe traditional financial institutions will be the most disruptive entity over the next five years, according to a 2017 PwC study, while startups are launching more fintech projects that focus on personal loans and personal finance.
With startups and established financial organizations determined to cash in on fintech projects and other innovations, agile delivery skills as well as an ability to manage projects in complex, matrixed environments can set a candidate apart, Mr. Isip says.
After a tepid 2016, the global construction market heated up in 2017—and the fire is expected to burn bright through 2018. Although China goes against that trend—with fewer construction projects expected in 2018 than 2017 or 2016—it still outpaces other major markets, with 6.2 percent GDP growth estimated for this year, according to research firm Turner & Townsend.
Yet the sector faces a big talent challenge: 24 out of 43 markets are suffering a skills shortage, up from 20 markets last year. Even in markets where labor costs are relatively inexpensive, such as Bengaluru, India or Johannesburg, South Africa, budget alone isn't enough to address the skills shortage. Organizations in the 11 countries surveyed will need to fill an additional 9.7 million project-oriented positions through 2027 within the construction and manufacturing sector, PMI's Talent Gap report predicts.
But project talent with technical, in-the-field experience can really stand out in the face of shortfalls, says Jerome Huet, PMP, project manager, Sandvik, Paris, France. “We're also seeing more digitization, such as project managers using 3-D models on-site to address follow-up issues, rather than waiting for classical 2-D drawings on paper.”
That digital revolution can be good for the bottom line, too: Organizations in the construction industry could see a project productivity boost of 50 to 60 percent if they focus on key areas such as digitization, workforce skills and on-site execution, according to a 2017 McKinsey Global Institute report.
Project talent with technical, in-the-field experience can really stand out in the face of shortfalls.
—Jerome Huet, PMP, Sandvik, Paris, France
The big headlines coming from the IT sector are unrelenting as data breaches and other cybersecurity threats wreak havoc. Over the past 10 years, the volume of vulnerability alerts has climbed 33 percent, according to Cisco's 2017 Annual Cybersecurity Report. And the business consequences keep getting worse: More than one-third of organizations that experienced a breach reported customer opportunity or revenue loss of more than 20 percent.
One result of all this is a cybersecurity expert hiring frenzy. To build ramparts, organizations are doubling down on cybersecurity projects. “I see ample opportunity for security-focused project managers to grow in this field,” says James Brown II, chief information security officer, South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Columbia, South Carolina, USA.
The Cisco survey indicates 90 percent of organizations that faced recent threats have or are now launching projects to improve defenses. Thirty-eight percent of organizations are undergoing a change management initiative to separate the IT and security functions.
But many organizations are coming up short when staffing projects that include pouring resources into data center and IT facility projects. Nearly 75 percent of IT organizations say that recruiting for these initiatives is tough, according to IT market research firm 451 Research. Technical skills and previous experience will certainly give candidates a leg up over the competition, but so will often-overlooked skills such as collaboration, says Ekow Asamoah, PMP, IT project manager, Ignite Technologies, Accra, Ghana.
“Bringing people together with different perspectives or across different time zones is becoming more and more necessary in IT, so collaboration skills are in high demand,” he says.
“I see ample opportunity for security-focused project managers to grow in this field.”
James Brown II, South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Columbia, South Carolina, USA
The Remedy for Change
Healthcare portfolios have been complicated by economic uncertainty, rising costs and the myriad demands of an aging population, according to Deloitte's annual industry outlook. But complexity hasn't limited growth—or job opportunities.
In fact, health and tech were the two sectors that experienced the most professional job growth last year, according to the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants. And in the United States, healthcare had the biggest percentage increase in project-oriented jobs from 2017-2027 among the sectors analyzed in PMI's Talent Gap report, with a 17 percent increase in open positions.
Agility and flexibility aren't just a bonus—they're a must-have for ambitious project professionals in this field. “The skills that I see as being the most valuable, beyond credentials and technical skills, are intangible people skills,” says Mr. Brown. “These include the ability to build and maintain stakeholder and contributor buy-in while managing project scope in the face of ever-evolving change requests, deadlines and stakeholder priorities.”
Project professionals who marry healthcare and IT skills can quickly supercharge their careers. That's because consumers are clamoring to have greater access to their health data: More than half of prescription drug users now report filling medications through a mobile app, for instance, and nearly half would prefer to use telemedicine for post-surgical follow-up care. No surprise, then, that healthcare organizations are backing lots of telemedicine projects to meet patients where they are and deliver cost savings. What is surprising? Virtual reality, next-generation gene sequencing and 3-D-printing devices are in the healthcare portfolio mix as well these days.
Ready to find your next project opportunity? Look for signs of growth potential.
Taking the Lead
These countries* are projected to have the highest GDP growth rate this year.
*Based on the 35 member countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development as of 30 November 2017
Show of Strength
The world's 10 largest economies, based on 2018 GDP forecast (in U.S. trillions of dollars):
Where the most new project-oriented job openings are projected to be created through 2027, by sector (in 11 countries surveyed):
Where the most new project-oriented jobs are projected annually through 2027, by country (among 11 countries surveyed):
The demand for project-oriented jobs is on the rise around the world.
87.7 million Individuals working in project management-oriented roles by 2027
22.2 million Number of new project-oriented roles organizations will need to fill through 2027
US$207.9 billion Potential loss in GDP through 2027 in 11 surveyed countries if project-oriented talent gap isn't filled
Sources: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; International Monetary Fund; Project Management Job Growth and Talent Gap Report, PMI, 2017
AEROSPACE AND DEFENSE
The aerospace and defense industry is looking up: Global disclosed deal values reached US$44 billion in the first nine months of last year, the highest value in two years. Nearly 100 additional large commercial aircraft were manufactured in 2017—despite pricing pressures and product mix changes by airline operators. And rising global tensions have led to increased demand for military products in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and the Korean peninsula, as well as in adjacent large markets such as India, China, Japan and Saudi Arabia, according to Deloitte's 2017 Global Aerospace and Defense Sector Outlook.
“The question of how to integrate drones into the airspace is a fluid discussion right now.”
—Lindsay James Mohr, AirMarket, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Yet project managers in the sector should think beyond defense projects and commercial aircraft. Projects for unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, are emerging as a red-hot career possibility. Goldman Sachs forecasts that by 2020, the drone market will hit US$100 billion, driven largely by their leap to the consumer market and their applications in everything from farming and firefighting to retail delivery and hobby flights.
“As regulators bring more clarity to this area, we'll see more drone companies launching development projects and more opportunities,” says Lindsay James Mohr, founder of AirMarket, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Project professionals who can stomach a bit of uncertainty, including navigating emerging and complex government requirements, will be in high demand, he says. “The question of how to integrate drones into the airspace is a fluid discussion right now, and regulators and people in the industry are still struggling to find the right balance.”
Geopolitical uncertainties, a global fuel glut and shifting environmental regulations have thrown the energy sector into tumultuous times. The oil and gas arena, for instance, has been slogging through a downturn for more than three years. More than 25 percent of CEOs in the sector decreased headcount last year, according to PwC.
Yet job creation in renewable energy is outpacing jobs in fossil fuel extraction by a wide margin. Solar and wind projects have grown at rates of about 20 percent annually in recent years, according to a 2017 data analysis by the Environmental Defense Fund. And there's no immediate sign of decline.
“The outlook in the sustainable energy field is generally positive, particularly in demand-side management and energy storage,” says Ryan Ramos, principal, RS2 Energy, Oakland, California, USA. “There's a strong demand for qualified project managers and numerous opportunities for advancement.”
That's especially true for project professionals who can seek out unlikely partners, approach project hurdles from a fresh perspective and understand that the industry is still evolving. “That doesn't mean one should abandon the tried-and-true skills for running projects, but being open and adaptable can really drive successful project execution in this area,” he says.
While developed countries have long been the hiring leaders in renewable power, emerging markets are closing the production gap and are looking for talent, too, according to Moody's 2017 calculations. Countries in the Middle East and North Africa are slated to install 14 gigawatts in solar plants by the end of this year—a sevenfold increase from 2015. Central and South America also are gaining steam: Solar power production will increase by nearly five times by the end of 2018 compared to 2015.
“The outlook in the sustainable energy field is generally positive, particularly in demand-side management and energy storage.”
—Ryan Ramos, RS2 Energy, Oakland, California, USA
The Rampion wind farm off England's Sussex coast
PHOTO BY JAMES BOARDMAN/ALAMY STOCK
Thanks to strong and stable growth, these five countries are bursting with project management opportunities.
Source: International Monetary Fund; Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Gig to Gig
Freelance project managers can expect many opportunities to help organizations gain their digital footing.
BY CATHERINE ELTON
It's a good time to freelance. The gig economy is booming, and tens of millions of new project-oriented jobs will be created around the world in the coming decade. Where those two trends overlap, opportunities for freelance project professionals abound. Three out of four organizations around the world now use freelance project managers, according to a 2017 Arras People survey.
This year, contract project managers will find the most demand for their services in digital spaces, as organizations look to build more flexible workforces and project teams, says John Thorpe, director, Arras People, Manchester, England. The construction sector—especially nuclear power, road and rail infrastructure projects—will also lean heavily on contractors, he says.
“Skills in demand will be the usual suspects of technical, leadership and domain knowledge,” Mr. Thorpe says. “For construction, there will also be a need for specialists in risk management and planning.”
Regional factors also are increasing the appeal of freelance project managers. For example, to address economic uncertainty, firms in the Middle East are leveraging the freelance model to avoid making long-term investments in staff positions, says Philip Diab, PMP, executive director, NSCC International Ltd., Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
“Freelancers don't have to be part of the salary scale, so it's easier to bring in specialized talent when needed,” Mr. Diab says.
And because many organizations embarking on digital transformations might not be in the technology industry or have technology as a core competency, turning to outsiders is an attractive option, he notes. “For some organizations, it's just a short-term endeavor. So there's interest in bringing in freelancers to support a project when a skill set isn't needed for the long term.”
It's no surprise that agile-tested freelance project pros remain in high demand. Whether it's large tech companies looking to have backup talent or nontech organizations seeking specialized skills to steer an IT project, freelancers experienced with agile approaches have an advantage, says freelance human resources project manager Mariana Ladeira de Azevedo, PMP, who is currently a senior career and compensation consultant for Sinergia Gestäo Pessoas in Florianópolis, Brazil.
While organizations try to play catch-up with agile training programs for their full-time project managers, freelance project managers can step in to help transition delivery approaches and fill specialized needs.
“If a company is implementing a new enterprise resource planning system or implementing major new IT processes, they will usually request the help of external consultants or freelancers,” Ms. Azevedo says.
But freelancers in the IT realm shouldn't assume that every tech-related gig will default to agile approaches. Each organization's delivery approach can vary—from agile to waterfall, or a hybrid somewhere in between, Mr. Thorpe says.
Mr. Diab has been on both sides of the freelance game—managing projects as a contractor and hiring freelance project managers for organizations. The demand for freelance IT project managers is driven by a global shift to cloud technology, he says.
ILLUSTRATION BY SAM PEET
For example, large tech companies will need to hire freelance specialists to set up data centers that incentivize governments and other organizations to shift to cloud. That's because they lack enough fulltime talent with cloud experience, he says.
In today's fast-paced environment, organizations also are putting a premium on freelancers who have the people skills to provide short-term leadership. Companies increasingly are seeking freelancers who have emotional intelligence that can elevate project teams, says Kierstin Gray, PMI-ACP, PMP, a freelance project manager in New York, New York, USA.
“In today's competitive gig market, organizations give considerable weight to whether or not someone is a ‘culture’ or ‘personality’ fit,” she says. “This is largely due to the lessons learned over time about having volatile work environments or explosive personalities on teams.”
The upshot is a premium placed on contract project managers who have strong stakeholder management skills and can quickly align with a company's strategic objectives—even faster than a staff hire would need to.
“Teams will use the first few weeks—if not the first few days—to determine whether a freelance consultant is worth their time and effort and whether they will be successful,” Ms. Gray says.
But that assessment works both ways. Freelancers should look for red flags to determine when a potential gig isn't a good fit for them.
“If you go to meet a potential client and realize your vision and values somehow don't match, you might have a problem working there,” Ms. Azevedo says.
The warning signs might include people arriving late to meetings or failing to show up altogether—both of which can be evidence of a lack of organizational structure. Another reason to just walk away: If the hiring manager provides few or ambiguous details about the role's responsibilities or necessary skills.
“Sometimes it is important to say ‘no’ to avoid a scenario that won't be good for your career portfolio,” Ms. Azevedo says.
“In today's competitive gig market, organizations give considerable weight to whether or not someone is a ‘culture’ or ‘personality’ fit.”
—Kierstin Gray, PMI-ACP, PMP, New York, New York, USA
“More organizations are going to strive to deliver project results based on hybrid approaches and practices. It's happening right now in all sorts of fields. Executives care less about a pure agile or waterfall approach than they do about achieving results. This shift is an ongoing evolution.”
—Manuel Salero Coca, PMP, program manager director, Latin America Huawei Technologies Co., Mexico City, Mexico
How can project managers stand out in 2018?
Stand Your Ground
“Project managers need to know when to raise their voices—to push back on an unreasonable request, an unrealistic scope change or an untenable resource shift. They need to know when to trust their gut and not be afraid to raise their voices when they run across something that doesn't make sense. They know their projects better than anyone and are responsible for successful delivery.”
—Parris Farr, PMP, principal, Farr Consulting, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
“The ability to gain the trust of the client will help you be seen as their trusted adviser and their go-to person to help them their achieve goals and objectives. Trusting your team creates an environment where they feel empowered to be creative and take the chances needed to deliver optimal solutions. You can't set out to develop the skill overnight, but it comes from learning to listen with intention and then behaving in a way that continuously fosters the relationship.”
—Billi F. Taylor, PMP, managing strategy consultant, IBM, Washington, D. C., USA
Focus on Safety
“Labor practices and safety programs are very important to deliver a successful project. I educate project managers to gain a full understanding of their local environment and laws. You have to know what the danger is before you can manage around it. In Dubai, for instance, it's incredibly hot for six months of the summer, making it unsafe to work during most parts of the day on construction sites or telecom towers. That can have a big impact on project schedules and require real creativity to manage.”
—Atiq Khattak, lead services business manager, Nokia, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
“Many companies prefer hiring someone who has a project management certification. In the telecommunications market, and in general, companies rely on the strict evaluation process that PMI applies to all Project Management Professional (PMP)® candidates. Thus, PMP® certification constitutes a high competitive advantage to its holder.”
—Dalton Gordillo Larco, PMP, technical project manager, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Stay on Message
“You can't manage scope, schedules, quality, resources, cost or risk without communication. It's at the core of collaboration across stakeholders and teams, and it facilitates transparency and candor. I'd say communication skills should be one of the strongest tools in a project manager's toolkit.”
—Ekow Asamoah, IT project manager, Ignite Technologies, Accra, Ghana
“Being open to diverse and alternative ideas and approaches is a defining attribute of successful project managers. Leadership teams sometimes find themselves leaning on trusted but constrained resources for the sake of time and comfort. Project managers can combat homogeny by pressing leaders to find the best skills for a particular task as opposed to their traditional go-to resources”
—James Brown II, chief information security officer, South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Columbia, South Carolina, USA
“Dealing with stakeholders, budgets and project issues can be really challenging, so project managers need to focus on building their resilience and emotional balance. Being able to recognize your emotions and respect your own limits is crucial to carrying on during trying times and delivering the initiative successfully.”
—Mariana Ladeira de Azevedo, PMP, senior career and compensation consultant, Sinergia Gestáo de Pessoas, Florianópolis, Brazil
“Project management isn't about pushing out the technology pieces, it's about making sure solutions actually meet stakeholder needs. Being able to connect with your stakeholders and truly understand their needs is foundational—if you can't do that and build relationships, project success is quite unlikely.”
—Lindsay James Mohr, founder of AirMarket, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Project professionals with greater experience—and the PMP® certification—reported earning a premium.
Here's a look at salaries around the world.
The Top 10 The countries with the highest median salaries* for project management professionals. *All salaries have been converted to U.S. dollars.
ILLUSTRATIONS BY SAM PEET
Source: Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey 10th Edition, PMI, 2018
The PMP Advantage
Salary survey respondents holding the Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification report increased pay.
|The average median salary increase reported by PMP holders in 37 countries compared to those without the PMP.|
The five countries reporting the highest salary advantage for PMP certification holders, among survey respondents:
It's no surprise that in most countries included in the survey, salary increases with added responsibility. But in some countries there are dramatic pay jumps.