Project Management – now more relevant than ever

Posted on April 21, 2022

McKinsey listed project management as one of three skills that companies prioritised in 2020.  The other two skills are leadership & managing others and critical thinking & decision-making – skills related to project management and to management in general.  A Harvard Business Review article predicts that 88 million people globally will be working in project management by 2027. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the PMI (Project Management Institute) estimated that more than 1,5 million new project management jobs per year were created world-wide, and that there were not enough project managers to fill these positions. Some believe that the trillions of dollars that governments promise for COVID recovery are likely to create millions of additional project management positions.

A shocking number of projects however fail. This indicates a serious need for high-quality project management education and training that should be based on sound scientific principles and the latest research.

Project management has been taught at a post-graduate level at the University of Pretoria at least since the early 1980s.  Currently the GSTM (Graduate School of Technology Management) has without a doubt the most comprehensive set of project management courses and research activities in the country. Since the early 2000s, several research students have obtained the degree PhD (Project Management) from this School while more 800 have obtained MEng (Project Management) or MSc (Project Management) degrees. In addition to programmes that focus exclusively on project management, project management is also taught as modules (subjects) of GSTM programmes in engineering management, and in technology and innovation management.

Business Day recently mentioned that the University of Pretoria is the only institution in Africa that offers a masters’ programme that is accredited by the Project Management Institute. It further mentioned that the University of Pretoria currently celebrates the 25th anniversary of a project management course that has been attended by more than 10 000 students over the past 25 years.

An important trend is that project managers are increasingly working remotely via the internet – a development that allows project managers in South Africa to compete overseas on certain types of work, but also allows overseas project managers to compete on projects in South Africa.  The GSTM has taken note of a similar trend – that education and training is also increasingly being presented online – and has responded accordingly by developing online and hybrid courses.

With project management becoming an increasingly significant profession, the GSTM is well-positioned to address South Africa’s needs for research, education and training in the field of project management.

- Author Prof Herman Steyn
Published by Marlene Mulder

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