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Global economic trends demand broader skills


Wes Robinson

Training Manager for Project Delivery, Sellafield Ltd

Project management is in demand across a number of different sectors. Those entering the industry or building their career must develop a variety of diverse skills to succeed.

The global economy is becoming increasingly project-orientated. The need to train and upskill project managers has never been greater.

Traditionally, project managers were used in sectors such as construction and engineering. However, industries such as professional services and healthcare have begun to utilise project managers to improve efficiency, save time and save money.

This wider appreciation of the role of the skilled project manager has created a talent shortage, highlighted the need for more diversity and revealed concerns over project managers’ mental health.

It has also emphasised that for those already working in the industry or considering project management as a career it is essential they gain experience in different areas.

For example, today’s project manager requires expertise in technology such as artificial intelligence and machine learning as well as leadership and business management skills.

Project management needs investment and training to upskill

Wes Robinson is training manager for project delivery at nuclear decommissioning company Sellafield. He has worked in project management for 18 years and is well aware of the need to improve and expand training and to upskill and ensure any project workforce is diverse.

He wants to attract more apprentices into the industry, and in September the University of Cumbria will become the first site to offer a degree level 6 Apprenticeship. The Level 4 Associate Project Manager Apprenticeship has already been taken up by around 800 people.

“Interest in project management as a career is growing but the industry needs stability and investment in terms of training and skills to boost awareness of everything from project effectiveness and risk management to planning and control and engineering,” says Robinson.

This Level 6 Apprenticeship has been designed with the global nature of today’s project management industry firmly in mind. It was devised by Sellafield and other leading employers including BAE Systems, British Airways, Rolls-Royce and Transport for London.

Mental health and project management

As the project management sector tackles a skills shortage, those working in it face heavier workloads and more components that could be a source of mental fatigue. The importance of offering training to help protect people’s mental health cannot be underestimated.

“Being a project manager in any industry can be a stressful job. There must be training around time management, for example, which is very important, especially for apprentices.”

Encouraging more diversity will also help to plug the skills gap. Companies need to encourage more women into project management and recruit from different social backgrounds.

Robinson says there is a 50/50 split when it comes to hiring apprentices and he encourages all companies to widen their recruitment net.

“Diversity is crucial to bring in different ideas and perspectives when working on projects,” he says. “Among our apprentices you do find that many 19-year-old women are more organised than the 19-year-old men, but the males often have more leadership experience.”

Robinson set up the Project Academy for Sellafield in 2016 to provide the specialist education, training and professional qualifications necessary to deliver complex and challenging projects. The Academy is being used by Rolls-Royce as a benchmark for its own training school launching in Derby.

Click the image to download the latest Sellafield Project Academy prospectus, and learn more in our video:

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