Project Management and upskilling for a new future

COVID-19 is not only a health crises, it is a job wrecker. Yet, some sectors are thriving.

Fuelled by government money, the infrastructure sector, is booming. New projects large and small are rolling in and the demand for skilled project managers is high.

According to the International Labour Organization, the equivalent of 195 million jobs could be lost world-wide in the second half of 2020. But Infrastructure is pinpointed as a major saviour of the economy as both federal and state governments pump in taxpayer dollars.

'Shovel ready' projects that can kick off in the next six months are getting $1 billion from the Federal Government. Another $500 million is promised to the Targeted Road Safety Works Program as well as another $500 million to local roads and community infrastructure through local governments.

In the last budget in Victoria alone, infrastructure received $110 billion, before any stimulus packages. And no one has missed gigantic ongoing projects like the Melbourne Airport rail or Suburban Rail loop. These projects will secure jobs and support the national economy during and after COVID-19.

For people who have lost their job during COVID-19 or who are looking for a change of career, project management has excellent prospects.

Luke Belfield is Director of Asset Strategy and Projects in the Department of Treasury and Finance, Victoria. He says governments are stretched to cope with this massive increase in the project pipeline.

The concern is how to keep current projects going as more and more projects are added on, as is insuring the same quality, standard of delivery and project control as usual.

“We’re focusing on where the biggest risks are and how to address those. We’re looking at the skills we need and rolling out programs to address them," he says.

"We need really experienced graduates that have the right skills, making sure we are building up the pipeline of people to the pipeline of projects.”

For people who have lost their job during COVID-19 or who are looking for a change of career, project management has excellent prospects.

“We have plenty of work as well as a lot of new projects to look at. My biggest concern will be skilled capacity to deliver on those projects," says Pelagia Markogiannakis, Director of Project Controls at Major roads and projects Authority in Victoria.

"Sadly, a lot of people have lost their jobs during this time, but a lot of them will have transferable skills," she says.

"However, whether or not they will have the right skills will be the biggest question, along with how to deploy them really quickly, especially in a virtual space where training becomes more complicated and it’s harder for people to execute their skills.”

According to Richard Foster, Chief Examiner and Unit coordinator for Consulting Projects at Monash Business School, a generic undergraduate degree is no longer sufficient to cope in today’s complex business world. More structured skill sets are necessary.

“We now have a much more specific training at universities in project management. We are realising that we have to resource industry with the skills they need.

"Not just an academic background but also work integrated learning to get experience as well as knowing how to manage different interfaces to get to the right outcomes. This is what we give our graduates,” he says.

Looking for a change in career? Or need to gain specialist market-recognised skills in project management?

Find out more about Monash Business School's Master of Project Management, and how it can help you escalate your industry experience.