Virtually every sector and every industry wishes to forget the year 2020. Some sectors have already succumbed, but many are striving to stay afloat. While the future is uncertain, we will hopefully start seeing a brighter and better picture, albeit with adjustments and modifications.
The Revolution of Jobs, a. k. a. The Project Economy
COVID-19 has forced organizations across sectors and industries to undergo massive disruption, and economic pressure to remodel their business with fewer resources and more efficiency. It has also challenged them to figure out how to collaborate in new ways.
One of the critical ways to enable change is through projects. A catalyst for this shift is an increased focus on the Project Economy, in which teams come together in new ways to deliver better outcomes – tangible value at the end of each initiative, and perhaps a series of transformative projects working toward a shared goal.
With unemployment rates rising during the pandemic, professionals of all ages have found themselves facing a meagre and hyper-competitive job market. But those in the project management field, or looking to enter it, maybe looking at a different and more positive landscape.
According to PMI's research, roughly US$2 trillion is wasted every year by organizations worldwide due to ineffective business strategy implementation through poor project management practices. But thanks to the economic downturn, companies don't have $2 trillion to fix the problem, and many now lack the people resources. However, when done right, projects can transform the world as we know it, driving positive change for businesses, people, and society.
Recently, LinkedIn India announced the list of most popular courses in India. Project Management Professional (PMP)® prep course was part of the Top 10 of popular courses, showing increased demand for India's project management skills. The list reflects the interests of professionals to upskill themselves and adapt to the new digital normal.
The top ten courses professionals are seeking the most in India:
- Learning Python
- Time Management: Working from Home
- Strategic Thinking
- Writing a Resume
- Excel Essential Training (Office 365)
- Cert Prep: Project Management Professional (PMP)®
- Remote Work Foundations
- Tips for Working Remotely
- Python Essential Training
- Communicating with Confidence
The Importance of Upskilling and Reskilling
Upskilling has emerged as the best strategy for individuals and organizations to recover from the effects of unprecedented crises and prepare for the 'future of work.' As a result, upskilling programs have transitioned from a 'good to do' to a 'need to do' action item on the corporate agenda. The pandemic has left many in the workforce looking for their next move. And the time in-between roles has forced many to look for a different career path or expand their skillsets.
Especially post-pandemic, employers have to create a culture and atmosphere that passionately navigates change, versus merely responding to it. And individuals must mirror that culture in their careers. The time is now for employees to pursue project management skills and for organizations to invest in reskilling/ training opportunities for their workforce. At the same time, the adoption of AI and other new technologies will help. Though employees may find themselves working virtually, there are still opportunities to grow professionally and personally, even while social distancing.
Additionally, the necessity to develop "power skills" – like collaborative leadership, emotional intelligence, and empathy – has never been greater. These key skill sets are taking on even greater importance and relevance in a virtual environment, in which team members can't easily pick up on body language and other traditional non-verbal communication cues.
Project professionals surveyed for our Pulse of the Profession research told us that they ranked collaborative leadership as the most essential team skill. Transformation must start from the inside, and organizations need to empower their employees to be the change-makers through experiential training and coaching.
The future of jobs
A study shows that 86% of the people surveyed feared losing their jobs and livelihood post-COVID-19 lockdowns in India. Talent executives say emphasizing employee experience increases retention and productivity, which further meets younger workers' high expectations and attracts more candidates in this tight industry.
The project management community will play a pivotal and leading role in helping the world rebound, and it will need to expand its workforce to do so. According to a PMI survey, through 2027, the project management-oriented labour force in seven project-oriented sectors is expected to grow by 33% or nearly 22 million new jobs globally. The demand over the next ten years for project managers is growing faster than demand for workers in other occupations. Notably, China and India will represent more than 75% of the total project management-oriented employment opportunities.
Our New Ecosystem of Work will be a world where businesses become gymnastic to navigate fast changes and deliver on outcomes and customer value. To be gymnastic, organizations must be able to act in a predictive manner in terms of structure, framework, discipline, and governance, while allowing room for creativity and innovation. Businesses have an opportunity to help both their employees and the larger community advance in their project-oriented careers, as this community will play a leading role in helping the world to rebound.
In pandemic times, if there was ever a skill set that was of the utmost value in navigating disruption, it is project management. Project managers are inherently change-makers and are perfectly poised to take on these challenges, given their unique (and credentialed) ability to turn ideas into outcomes-based reality.
Leadership will turn to project managers and those with project management skills to play a crucial role in implementing change. This will call for the most certified and the most qualified people, who are also adaptable and resilient in the face of uncertainty.
To achieve success, the project economy demands that teams work iteratively to discover what works and what doesn't, with a results orientation.
As we embrace the expansion of the new project economy post-pandemic, organizations must turn ideas into reality, whether employees are working face-to-face or remain virtual. In the months and years ahead, project professionals will only grow in importance to their organizations as they proactively navigate change.
Dr. Srini Srinivasan
Regional Managing Director – Project Management Institute