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Narrowing the Talent Gap

How to be a front-runner in the race for talent

The talent crisis is real. Projects are at risk. It’s time to make talent a strategic priority.


As a result of economic growth and increasing projectization, the demand for project managers is expected to soar in the coming decade. At the same time, the collective impact of demographic trends, retirements, and cultural shifts in the workplace, will create a shrinking talent pool that is insufficient to meet demand. The Project Management Institute (PMI) and PwC’s latest global research indicates there is a lack of awareness, or perhaps some complacency, among project-based organizations of the risks that lie ahead, and the potential detrimental impact that the talent crisis will have on projects and their ability to meet strategic goals in the future.

Successful projects are a key driver of global economic growth. As more and more industries become projectized, the demand for skilled project managers is expected to soar in the coming decade. But at the same time, aging populations and declining birth rates in many countries are shrinking the size of their workforces. According to PMI’s 2021 Talent Gap: Ten-Year Employment Trends, Costs and Global Implications report, the global economy will need a total of 25 million new project professionals by 2030. To close this gap, 2.3 million people will need to enter project management-oriented employment (PMOE) every year just to keep up with demand.


The talent gap is being exacerbated by the post-pandemic ‘Great Resignation,’1 which has seen workers quitting their jobs in droves all over the world, and it seems that the situation will only get tougher. Microsoft’s Work Trend Index2 report estimates that over 40% of workers globally are considering quitting or changing professions in the coming year.

At the same time, PMI and PwC’s latest global research indicates that talent strategies haven’t changed much. There’s a widespread lack of focus on developing and retaining existing project managers, and a lack of variety and innovation in attracting and recruiting new talent. The core problem, we believe, is that there isn’t a business case for investment in talent—one that explicitly aligns capabilities to organizational strategy and competitive advantage. The business case should describe how hiring, training, performance, and retention strategies will be aligned to those capabilities; and critically, it should use a data-driven approach to assess capabilities, measure progress, and link that to organizational performance.

Without a systematic approach and a focus on hard numbers, personal traits and behaviors will continue to be viewed as “soft” and risk being undervalued. And unless capabilities-building is recognized and treated as the central enabler of successful strategy execution, organizations will be unable to meet their goals, projects will falter, and the profession as a whole will be unable to avoid the impact of a global talent crisis. Most organizations seem unaware of the crisis, however some, albeit a minority, have begun to take action.



The Talent Gap: Facts and Figures

Project management-oriented employment (PMOE)—which includes skilled project managers and those in less formal project management roles, that encompass project management skills—makes up 3% of all global employment, equating to 90 million jobs. This is expected to grow to 3.2% or 102 million jobs by 2030. By 2030, at least 13 million project managers are expected to have retired creating additional challenges for recruitment. To close the gap, 25 million new project professionals are needed by 2030.3


A Call to Action

The message is clear: talent, projects, and strategic goals are at risk unless organizations invest now in building winning capabilities to gain a competitive advantage.

  • Take it to the top: Make talent management a C-suite priority, with clear alignment of capabilities and strategic priorities.
  • Follow the numbers: Use a systematic, data-driven approach to assessing key capabilities, identifying gaps. and measuring progress.
  • Reinvent recruitment: Get smarter at attracting talent to plug capabilities gaps.
  • Elevate your L&D: Invest in fostering critical capabilities, using diverse learning methods.
  • Monitor, evaluate, and monitor again: Review and evolve talent strategies in line with feedback, progress, and the changing priorities of the business.

Click to learn more about what organizations can do to minimize the impact of the crisis.
Our research points to actions that make it easier to attract, develop and retain talent, as evidenced by the strategies taken by ‘high-performing’ organizations.


About Project Management Institute (PMI)

PMI is the world’s leading professional association for a growing community of millions of project professionals and changemakers worldwide. As the world’s leading authority on project management, PMI empowers people to make ideas a reality. Through global advocacy, networking, collaboration, research, and education, PMI prepares organizations and individuals to work smarter so they can drive success in a world of change. Building on a proud legacy dating to 1969, PMI is a “for-purpose” organization working in nearly every country around the world to advance careers, strengthen organizational success, and enable changemakers with new skills and ways of working to maximize their impact. PMI offerings include globally recognized standards, certifications, online courses, thought leadership, tools, digital publications, and communities.

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1 The term “Great Resignation” was coined by professor Anthony Klotz to describe the worldwide increase in people voluntarily leaving their jobs from April 2021 onward, supposedly as a result of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and workplace conditions.

2 Microsoft Work Trend Index. 2021. The Next Great Disruption is Hybrid Work—Are We Ready? Microsoft.

3 Project Management Institute. 2021. Talent Gap: Ten-Year Employment Trends, Costs, and Global Implications.


PMI is the leading authority in project management, committed to advancing the project management profession to positively impact project success. We empower professionals to excel in project management practices through our growing global community, knowledge sharing, and best-in-class certifications—driving positive change in organizations and communities.