Research says that project management skills are becoming even more important for future projects in Australia.

A joint research report by KPMG and the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM), highlights a more positive sentiment within Australian industry than originally thought, and despite a turbulent year, the overall picture for project management is more positive with an ever increasing demand for project management skills.

Now in its third year, the survey of over 550 Australian project management professionals identifies the issues and trends in project management in Australia. With almost two thirds of respondents indicating the Project Managers are perceived with a positive image in their organisation, the ability to deliver projects and programs is a valuable, and valued, skill.   It is, therefore, a little surprising to see that many respondents (53%) say that their organisation does not do enough to improve project and program management skills and capability, despite 67% believing that projects are becoming more complex.

This highlights a need to ensure that newer professionals to the project management profession have the skills required to manage these increasingly complex projects. When it comes to skills, soft skills rather than hard skills (such as formal project management training) were indicated as areas of development for project managers.

This raises an alarm for the major spending on infrastructure projects announced by the Federal Government in the October Federal Budget, where availability of skilled project management resources will be crucial to the investment and outcomes of projects, especially in the construction sector.

“The demand for quality and experienced project managers in Australia has been high for a number of years. With the Australian Government gearing up to deliver major projects to restart the economy, the competition to attract talent will be even higher”, said Elizabeth Foley, AIPM CEO.

Peter Sexton, Partner at KPMG, added, “It is interesting to note that perceived skill set requirements are more aligned to traditional “soft skills”, rather than formal project management training. Nonetheless, when hiring project management staff, our respondents clearly indicated a preference for candidates with relevant qualification and/or certification”.

Project change management was also noted as an area for improvement, with only about two thirds of respondents indicating their organisation uses formal change management activities as part of the project management lifecycle. Adding to this, only about one third of this group suggested those activities were very or extremely effective.

Overall, the results of this year’s survey reveal that project delivery in Australia remains strong in the face of challenging and unprecedented times. As expected, the pandemic has had some impact on project delivery in 2020, with 58% of respondents stating that they have been moderately or significantly impacted by the delay to projects and programs of work.

The full report, and an overview of how project delivery has performed in Australia over 2020, is available here.