IT project management has a major talent problem

- January 9, 2023 3 MIN READ
Employment, interview, job
Photo: AdobeStock
The widespread talent shortage is hitting Australian IT project managers hard, with nearly three-quarters experiencing staff shortages, according to a new report.

The Australian Institute of Project Management’s State of Project Management in Australia included a survey of more than 300 diverse Australian project professionals in July and August last year.

Just under a quarter of those surveyed work in information technology.

The report found that 73 per cent of respondents said their projects are being impacted by staff shortages, and 52 per cent reported delays due to difficulties in sourcing the key skills needed to complete a project.

The survey found this issue is being compounded by supply chain disruptions around the world, with 44 per cent of survey respondents saying their projects are being impacted by this.

Australian Institute of Project Management acting CEO Simon Kaleski said the report shows the need for Australian companies to prioritise efforts to make the sector more exclusive and adopt innovative solutions.

“The broad effect of skills shortages and supply chain disruptions places immense pressure on the project management profession,” Kaleski said.

“These report findings raise the need for innovative and inclusive ways to bring more people into the profession and to retain and upskill the existing talent.

“The C-suite leaders and decision-makers should consider attracting emerging talent, mentoring, and professional development are key focuses for their organisations.”

The talent crisis will likely only become worse for project managers too, with the survey finding that 40 per cent of respondents have been working for 20-plus years, and likely approaching retirement.

“Labour shortages will only be exacerbated by the ageing workforce,” the report said.

“Organisations must deploy innovative and inclusive ways to attract people into the profession and to retain the experienced and qualified professionals already in place.”

Troublingly, the report found that while the skills shortage is stark and directly impacting businesses, many are doing nothing to address it.

More than 40 per cent of respondents said they weren’t doing anything to attract new talent, or that they don’t know what their company is doing.

Due in part to the skills crisis, employee wellbeing has taken a hit. Just under 40 per cent of survey respondents said that stress and burnout is increasing, while just under 30 per cent said that their own stress and burnout is increasing.

One way to assist in attracting new talent is to look at more flexible team resourcing. But the survey found that less than a quarter of respondents are doing this, a figure that the report said needs to increase significantly.

The report also found that environmental, social and governance (ESG) is having a greater effect on project managers, with 62 per cent expecting these requirements to influence their projects and programs going forward.

Numerous reports recently have identified the dire state of the skills shortage that Australia is facing, and the impact this is having on the health and wellbeing of employees, and local companies’ ability to operate.

A report this month found that workplace inequality is on the rise, with the gap between managers and their staff growing.

This was seen through 55 per cent of senior and executive leaders surveyed saying their expectations are being met by their company, but only 33 per cent of managers and junior-level employees saying this.

In an effort to combat the skills crisis, the federal government recently added 10 more IT occupations to the official skills shortage list, which helps to inform Australia’s migration and skills development policies.

The new professions added include web developers, database administrators and business analysts.

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