Projects are the way that organizations introduce change. Organizations invest in projects in order to change the way they operate, or to bring new products and services to market. With today's technological changes accelerating, the pressure on organizations to change is growing.

The consequence of this is that there continues to be a growing demand for project-related jobs in the labour market. A report by PMI® indicates that by 2027, there will be a 33% increase in project management jobs [1]. The report covers 11 countries, including two Arab countries - Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. PMI® report forecasts an increase of nearly 22 million new project manager jobs are to become available by 2017.

That means by 2027, the labour market will need to meet the need for approximately 88 million project management jobs. China and India will make up the largest proportion of them with 46 million jobs and 21.7 million jobs respectively, or more than 75% of the total.

The report concludes that there is a widening gap between the need for professionals to manage projects and their availability in the labour market.

Demand for project management jobs

The study reveals that by 2027, employers in these countries will need 87.7 million people working in roles associated with project management. An earlier report by PMI in 2012 estimated that the number of project-related posts would reach 52.4 million by 2020. But this forecast was exceeded in 2017 and reached 66 million jobs.

In 2016, 46% of employers in the United States faced difficulty finding the right people to hire them [2].

More projectized work

One of the main reasons for this lack of talent is the fact that the global economy as a whole has become more project-oriented, resulting in a sharp increase in the number of jobs requiring entrepreneurial skills, especially in large, fast-growing economies such as China and India.

This shortage is because the demand for specialists or professionals in project management is no longer limited to traditional industries such as engineering, construction and manufacturing industries, but also to the professional services sector, printing, publishing, financial services and health care services.

New technology

As mentioned previously, organizations and companies are seeking to ensure that they continue to launch and improve new services or products and are increasingly dependent on technology such as Artificial Intelligence and machine learning to enhance productivity and effectiveness. This trend has created an additional demand for project managers who have the skills to deliver and support technology projects.

Sectors requiring project managers

The employment opportunities that will be required over the next ten years for project-related jobs by sector will be as follows:

  • Manufacturing and construction - 9.7 million
  • Information services and publishing - 5.5 million
  • Finance and insurance - 4.6 million
  • Management and professional services - 1.7 million
  • Utility - 279,000
  • Oil & Gas - 49,000

Facing the challenge

Raising GDP

Only through successful projects can the required changes be introduced in organizations. If these changes can be achieved, they will positively reflect on the overall performance of the economies of the countries concerned. Project managers and other project management roles can contribute to GDP by raising the overall productivity of the country. Therefore, project management will play an increasing role in improving the economic capacity of countries.

The report shows that shortages of project management personnel could lead to risks of $208 billion over the 10-year period.

Threat to global businesses

This lack of project management talent is a major concern for organizations that rely more than ever on those talents to remain globally competitive. It is a golden opportunity for project managers and professionals as the market will view them as increasingly valuable assets in the near future.

An indicator of the rapid growth of project managers can be seen in the health care sector in the United States. In 2017 alone, it saw a growth in the demand for project management jobs of 17%.

What organizations are looking for

Despite the shortage of skilled project managers, if you’re thinking of trying to get into this are, it’s wise to think about what organizations really need.

In high performance organizations, talent management is aligned with overall corporate and business strategies. That’s due to the rapid acceleration of change that these organizations must adapt to, and to higher expectations of project managers. They are no longer expected to excel only in technical skills, but in leadership, strategic management and business management.

Talent triangle

The PMI Talent Triangle® is defined in the PMBOK® Guide. It describes the 3 core skills that project management professionals need today. These are: technical project management skills, leadership and strategic and business management skills.

Typically, the technical project management skills are often demonstrated by obtaining professional project management certification such as PMP®, CAPM® or PRINCE2®.

PMI Talent Triangle 3D min

Project management jobs forecast to 2027

The report analysed project management employment opportunities over 10 years in 11 countries. Unsurprisingly China ranked first in terms of the number of jobs to be requested up to 2027 by 46 million jobs, and India ranked first in terms of the expected growth rate of jobs by 48%. Saudi Arabia and the UAE were on the list with expected project management jobs growth rates of 13% and 28% respectively.

Project management certification

How does an existing project manager move on up in the project management field, and how do aspiring project managers break into the field?

Clearly experience counts more than anything but in addition project management certification can set one candidate ahead of others.

The problem with PMP®

In the MENA region, traditionally the main project management qualification has always been PMP® from the US-based PMI®. However, the problem with PMP® is that it teaches project managers the “how” to do the project management tool or technique, but it doesn’t teach the “what”, the “who”, the “why” or the “when”. This means that often after candidates take a PMP® course they still don’t know what they need to do on their project.

The PMBOK Guide® is descriptive i.e. it describes various knowledge areas, processes and tools and techniques. In fact, there are over 130 different tools and techniques described. However, it also only focusses on the project manager and sponsor roles, ignoring many other key roles required on a project.

In terms of its practicality, PMP® falls far short of what is required. As a reference guide for project managers, the PMBOK Guide®, upon which the PMP exam is based is a great handbook, and one which all project managers need on their bookshelf. As a guide to how to manage a project it is not very useful.

PRINCE2 - a practical methodology

PRINCE2 is described as the most widely used project management methodology in the world with more than 1.5 million practitioners. Its name means ‘Projects IN Controlled Environments’. It is a generic project management framework and is suited to manage any type of project in any industry.

PRINCE2 is a full project management methodology built on top of many of the areas covered by the PMBOK Guide®. PRINCE2 is prescriptive. It describes a full project management team of stakeholders and each of their individual responsibilities. It also describes at what point during a project each of these stakeholders must take decisions, the type of decision to be taken, and the management documents required to support these decisions. In comparison with the PMBOK Guide it is a far more useful and practical guide for project managers.

PRINCE2 is principles-based. As such it can be applied on any type or size of project. One of its strengths is that the main decisions on a project are driven by a business case which sets out the benefits to be realized in return for the investment in the project. The business case in PRINCE2 is the main tool which the project sponsor(s) uses to support decision-making before allocating the funds for the project. It then continues to support ongoing decision-making throughout the project.

Choose a certification which assists your work

For project professionals seeking certification, it is suggested that rather than just seeking the PMP certification, that they also seek PRINCE2 certification because they will find it far more useful and practical in their everyday work.

The demand for project management certificates often varies from one region to another. The United States of America has PMP qualifications, and in the UK, Europe and Australia it is certainly the PRINCE2 qualification. In recent years after years of being almost unknown, PRINCE2 has started to become more popular in the Middle East as more people understand its practical nature and easy applicability to all types of projects.


Be ready! If you are a project management specialist, the gap between supply and demand will increase and you may be one of the lucky ones to have a good job. But at the same time, you have to prepare for the high expectation of organizations which are looking for skilled and capable project managers.

Thus, having a professional project management certification which both provides practical assistance in your role and shows your knowledge of project management fundamentals will definitely benefit your career.


[1] PMI. (2017). Project Management Job Growth and Talent Gap 2017–2027. Available: Last accessed 27th Nov 2018.

[2] ManpowerGroup. (Unknown). ManpowerGroup 2016 Talent Shortage Survey Results. Available: Last accessed 30th Nov 2018.

PMI® is a mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

PMBOK® is registered mark of Project Management Institute, Inc.

PRINCE2® is registered trade mark of AXELOS Limited, used under permission of AXELOS Limited. All rights reserved.

The PMI TALENT TRIANGLE® and the PMI Talent Triangle logo are marks of Project Management Institute, Inc.

PMBOK® Guide”, “PMP” and “CAPM” are registered marks of Project Management Institute, Inc.