Is Project Management Really an Ageing Profession?

Over recent years Project Management has gained a reputation for having an ageing population.

This was one of the statistics that caught my eye recently when I was looking over the 2019 PMBR. As you can see by the figure below the percentage of 50 to 59 is 36%. By far the largest age group of practitioners in the UK.

If we compare this from previous years of the PMBR we can see the practitioner pool is getting older year on year (see: Age Demographic of UK Project Management Practitioners figure below)

Traditionally project management has been a second or even third career so we don’t expect a high number of under 30’s in the profession. But the increase in the percentage of the 50+ category year on year has to be a cause for concern.

Organisations need to do their part in bringing in the latest batch of practitioners because in a not too distant future they will be relying on them to deliver their projects.

Experience Valued Above All Else

Considering that the practitioner pool is ageing it comes as no surprise to see that experience and the ability to show successful delivery in the past is ranked as the highest valued candidate attribute. We very rarely see roles come to us without the client asking for relevant experience.

This is a trend that has probably had the biggest impact on the age demographic of practitioners. A practitioner with 20 years of experience will always be favoured against someone with less.

Organisations are unwilling to invest time and money in training and development. The ability to come into a role, get the job done and leave as efficiently as possible has become the priority.

10 Year Recession Hangover?

If we look back at the data from previous PMBR reports we can see that the trend of ageing started in 2008, about the same time that the UK entered the recession.

The impact of the recession increased the ageing process as organisations needed the ability to deliver projects today with no budget to invest in the people of tomorrow. We can see from the image below that since 2008 the percentage of practitioners aged 34 and under or 35 – 49 has decreased whilst 50+ have increased.

And finally, in 2017 the 50+ category became the largest age group. We need to be careful that this trend doesn’t extend further as without proper investment in future generations, there will be no suitable replacements for the current crop.

The impacts of which could be significant.

To gain more insights from the Project Management Domain take a look at the 2019 PMBR

project management benchmark report
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