Five Highlights of the 2020 PMI Job Report


The Project Management
Institute’s (PMI) membership magazine – PM Network – has just
released the January issue with a report –
2020 Jobs Report
– available for project management
practitioners to take a look at (currently only available for

In the report there are some key industry sectors to keep an eye
on as opportunities grow – as well as the impact of new
technologies as we go deeper into the age of ‘digital

The report also highlights the potential downturn heading our
way and how that will impact us, as well as looking at the things
we can be doing – to upskill and reskill when we face an
uncertain future.

There is much to uncover in the report so here are just five
areas covered and what that might mean for project management

  1. Sectors to Watch

The report pulls out four industry sectors that deserve special
mention as potential opportunity areas for jobs – these include
telecoms and 5G; financial services technology (fintech); renewable
energy and healthcare.

There are a couple of insights to pull from this. It’s
potentially a great opportunity for project practitioners currently
working in these sectors but what about others? Sure, there will
always be sectors rising and falling when it comes to investment
and therefore projects but in 2020 organisations are still hiring
what they’ve always hired and job advertisements for these
sectors will most likely have “must have telecoms experience”
or equivalent.

What we’ve learnt over the years since the recession of 2008
is that there will, yet again, be a perceived skills shortlist in
these rising sectors for project managers, yet there will some
great talent in the marketplace getting overlooked. Will it be any
different this time?

  1. AI Technologies

“74% of financial services organisations have already
implemented, are trialling or plan to implement artificial
intelligence, bots or machine learning” a big number! A report
from PwC, “85% of CEOs believe that AI will significantly change
the way they do business in the next 5 years.”

There’s two things here – AI in the solution of a project,
delivered to a customer and AI being used by the project itself, to
automate processes for example. It’s still early days for many of
us, we’re still in a period of trying to understand what AI
really means. One thing is clear though, if AI is going to figure
highly in the workplace in the very near future, the business
strategy and resulting plans need to be in place before any real
adoption can start. Does your business have
an AI-related business

PMO Flashmob – the networking and learning group – has spent
the last year trying to understand the impacts of AI on projects
– specifically the management of projects. During 2020, the focus
is specifically on understanding automation and advanced analytics.
There’s still a long way to go to understanding how it will work
in reality and at the moment it’s generally the more curious that
are taking the first steps in experimentation. Interested in
finding out more? Sign up and stay informed.

The other insight was drawn from the financial services
technology sector part of the report where the report states that
startups are flooding the market and “behind those teams is an
army of project managers who are geared toward scalability, growth,
and automation”. Much is made about the digital disruption in the
financial services sector today, innovation is key and technology
companies are poised to offer solutions. What is interesting about
this is, what does a fintech project manager look like? What are
the key skills for a role in this environment? How does that differ
from any number of project managers today? And crucially are the
fintech project managers more likely to be using the advanced
technologies of AI in their own projects as well as providing AI as
a solution to their customers?

  1. Leadership

There’s nothing really new featured in the report around
leadership – yes we have to be better with stakeholders and yes
leading teams is important, yadda yadda. One area which is
highlighted is empathy. I think most project managers today are
well aware of emotional intelligence, with empathy being one of the
key parts. I think the leadership and management practices being
talked about from other institutions is much more advanced than
just looking at one facet like empathy.

Take for example the
Quarterly Insights Report from McKinsey
, released at the end of
2019 it features a very interesting conversation with leaders of
something called the, ‘Consortium for Advancing Adult Learning
& Development (CAALD)’ which features business leaders and
academics talking about the reskilling era and how
leaders are implicated by this. The reskilling era is being born
out of digital disruption, advanced workplace technologies and so

In the conversation they talk about how the biggest disruption
to change is changing people’s habits. In project management we
all know that change management is hard work and here they talk
about the leader being aware of things like a growth mindset;
psychological safety; ‘having agency’; the design of work and
the workplace; unlearning and leaders being honest, positive,
authentic and open. These are all different ways of looking at how
teams are managed; stakeholders are communicated with and employees
are motivated to perform.

When we see other leadership institutions about the future, we
can see that just highlighting empathy as a key focus area for
project managers in 2020 seems lacking.

  1. Lessons from the Last Recession

The report highlights that there is an economical storm brewing,
and a turbulent year ahead. I think many of us in the UK already
feel like things have been stagnant and there’s been a lack of
confidence when it comes to investment from businesses – with
thanks to Brexit.

The report shared lessons from the last recession as a reminder
and as a pointer for the project manager’s careers in 2020. These

  1. Becoming indispensable to the business – standing out and
    going above and beyond
  2. Prioritising learning – not becoming obsolete and taking
    professional development into your own hands.
  3. Gaining new skills to use in another industry – agile skills
    were highlighted here
  4. Building professional networks that help open new doors
  5. Virtual working and being able to manage teams remotely.

There were two lessons from the 2008 recession that Arras People
were acutely aware of.

The first was around the training and professional development
side. When there were a lot more Project Managers in the
marketplace for employers to choose from, one of the things many
organisations did was shortlist based on the certifications they
had. It wasn’t ideal but they were getting so many applications
for roles that this was the quickest way for them to get to a

The second was that many project managers didn’t have a
network to fall back on, they hadn’t taken the time throughout
their careers to build and maintain it. It’s like anything,
we’re all busy, taking time out to grab a coffee or attend a
meetup just didn’t happen. What we saw was people were gaining
new opportunities via their networks during this time – not the
job boards or employer websites. When times are tough, people do
want to help and that’s why the network was so important to
people during 2009-10.

  1. The Salary Patterns

There’s a figure in the report based on PMI’s
Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey 2019
, which
turns heads. There was a 22% salary increase reported by holders of
the PMI’s PMP compared to those without. There are two ways of
looking at that number. First, it shows the power of having a
certification in your career of choice. Incidentally, why
wouldn’t you have some kind of certification in your career of

The second, well, the salary survey is from PMI and therefore
aren’t the people who take the survey likely to be PMP certified,
the last survey publicly available, in 2018, that figure was

The report also shows the countries with the highest median
salaries for project managers. Perhaps no surprises to see
Switzerland and the US at the top of the pile. What is not shared
here is the context – the cost of living; employment policies and
culture that all affect salary levels. Perhaps in 2021 we might
start to see which countries provide the best career opportunity
for project managers including standard of living; professional
development; work/life balance and so on, rather than needing a
high salary just to live in one of the most advanced countries in
the world.

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Five Highlights of the 2020 PMI Job Report
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