AIPM calls for major rethink to avoid skills shortage

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The retirement of up to one third of Australia’s project managers in the next decade signals a major skills shortage in leading industry sectors, according to Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM) chief executive Peter Shears. 

Mr Shears proposes significant changes to the role of project management within companies to resolve the looming crisis. “As a third of our membership exits the profession in the next 10 years, they will leave a major gap in experience and business acumen to backfill,” he says. 

“That spirit of risk-taking leadership that has characterised this generation of project managers just won’t be there in 10 years’ time.” Almost 50% of AIPM’s membership falls within the 40 to 54 age group, and another 10% in the 55 to 60 bracket face imminent retirement. 

Mr Shears urges organisations to plan now to overcome the significant challenges facing the profession and Australian companies. “While older project managers had 30 years to develop skills, today’s generation has to fast track to accumulate the same range of skills in just five to 10 years,” he says. 

He outlined three solutions to overcome the skills shortage, including a new approach to mentoring by senior project managers. “At the moment mentoring is seen to be working at company level, but it’s inevitably laid on top of a manager’s existing workload. 

I’m proposing companies take preretirement project managers off sensitive projects and make them full-time mentors,” Mr Shears says. “If these changes don’t take place and young people are not taught these skills, we will see a few years of turmoil as organisations are forced to come to grips with the issue.”