Demand for well-trained, highly skilled project managers is rising, but this is no ordinary or temporary scenario. According to Project Management Institute’s (PMI) 2021 Talent Gap report, a persistent global gap between supply and need for project management-oriented employment (PMOE) has become so urgent that the shortage is likely to impact every global region, with “a potential loss of up to $345.5 billion in global GDP by 2030.”

Due to the talent gap, graduates of the online Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a Concentration in Program and Project Management program from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside (UW-Parkside) have various professional opportunities. The industries most heavily affected are manufacturing and construction, information and publishing, finance and insurance, management and professional services, utilities and oil and gas. Demand for project management personnel also grows in other fields, including software, business operations, entertainment, management analytics, market research, law and computer information systems.

What Factors Are Contributing to the Shortage?

Causes of the global PMOE talent gap include the following:

  • More applications for project management professionals: As more organizations recognize the value of project management in achieving business objectives, the push for skilled professionals continues to increase.
  • A lack of clarity and standardization: Unlike fields such as law and engineering, the project management field is in its early stages and terminology in job titles, certifications and specific transferable skills required has not been fully standardized, making it difficult at times for employers and well-qualified candidates to connect.
  • Technological advancements: Ever-increasing use of technology in project management requires professionals with specialized skills, such as data analytics, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, which are also in high demand but low supply.
  • Competition from other industries: The call for project management professionals comes from not one but virtually every industry, from engineering to healthcare.
  • Lack of investment in project management education and training: Many organizations still do not invest enough in project management education and training programs for their employees.
  • Aging workforce: Many experienced project management professionals are approaching retirement age, and there is a shortage of younger professionals with the necessary skills and experience to take their place.
  • Globalization: As more companies operate on a global scale, there is a need for project managers with a broader range of skills, including cultural sensitivity, language proficiency and the ability to manage virtual teams across multiple time zones.

Implications for the Industry and Organizations

The growing talent gap in project management has several implications for organizations and the industry. Current and future consequences for the industry include the following:

  • Lowered productivity and profitability: The shortage of skilled PMOE professionals can lead to accomplishing less work, project delays, errors and cost overruns in projects, which can ultimately reduce productivity and profitability.
  • Frenetic employer competition for talent: As demand for project management professionals continues to rise, organizations compete with one another for the limited pool of skilled professionals. This scarcity impacts employee acquisition and retention, causing higher salaries and increased turnover rates.
  • Higher project failure rates: A lack of skilled project management professionals can lead to a higher rate of project failures, which can result in reputational damage, financial losses and missed opportunities for companies.
  • Reduced innovation and industry growth: Without enough skilled project management professionals, organizations may struggle to implement innovative projects that can drive their growth and competitiveness. In turn, this may limit the industry’s potential to evolve as it would without a talent gap.
  • Troubles in project risk mitigation: Skilled project management professionals are crucial in identifying and mitigating project risks. A shortage of these professionals can lead to increased risk exposure for organizations.

Implications for Well-Educated Project Management Professionals

When choosing a profession, it is always advantageous to identify skills the market needs most and invest your resources to master them. According to PMI’s report, by 2030, the global economy will require 25 million new project professionals; 2.3 million people will need to enter PMOE every year just to keep up.

While the talent gap is a challenge for employers, high demand for specialized project management skills is driving higher salaries and benefits, quicker career growth opportunities, more professional development resources invested per professional and increased job security. The average salary for a project manager in the U.S. is $124,119 as of March 2023. Experienced project managers in some of the highest-demand industries, such as construction and IT, earn considerably more. Actual salaries will depend on location, company, experience and more.

If you want to capitalize on the project management talent gap and position yourself for long-term success, UW-Parkside’s online MBA in Program and Project Management program will prepare you for leadership roles across industries. Aligned with PMI’s PMBOK Guide, the program’s curriculum uses case studies and Agile and Waterfall processes to deepen your understanding of resource management, project leadership, team building and change management. Students can complete this accelerated program in just 12 months.

Learn more about UW-Parkside’s online MBA with a Concentration in Program and Project Management program.