Yes, there is a skills shortage in the UK.
- CIPD talks about ‘The troublesome job of replacing EU workers’
- The Telegraph ‘UK firms from engineers to banks struggle to fill skills shortage’
- City A.M. ’UK employers expect to face a shortage of skilled workers in 2017, and one in three will be under “severe pressure” to find suitable employees’
Now these are only three of many articles that have been published in the press. So what is the impact on project management? Bad!
How do I know? I ask when I am in companies about the skills shortages and the impact this has on delivering projects.
Companies are talking about a skills shortage across a lot of areas. This has had an impact on project delivery with projects being late or over budget to pay for external consultants to fill the skills gaps – when they can find them.
So what should a company be doing to help itself?
- Analyse what skills you have and what is needed to deliver your overall strategy. This is not an easy task and demands a lot of research. However, without this knowledge you are sailing into the unknown
- Look at where there are some quick wins; can we cross train people to cover other areas? Let’s ensure that all managers are delegating effectively. Run a programme of courses on XXXX
- Look at recruitment – can you configure job roles around the recruitment challenges the company faces?
- What can you outsource – maybe some of the work can be done by another company to free up internal staff
- Develop some real career pathways for staff that encourages staff to remain with the company – that certainly includes project management!
- Develop the overall culture of the business – I have spoken with a number of people this year who are looking to move companies as they feel the overall culture is not to their liking – they are looking to move on.
Project managers should be thinking about this issue. They should be analysing the impact of this in their risk assessments. I have mentioned this to many project managers over the last 18 months and no one has included this in their risk log. It’s a big omission.
Interestingly, I did meet a director last year who told the Board of Directors that the project they wanted to deliver to meet a strategic objective could not be delivered. He suggested it was a big risk citing skills shortages within the business. The project never went beyond the business case.
This article cannot do justice to many of the complex issues companies could well face in this area. However, there is a need for more open discussion, for some radical thinking, for some creative thinking, and some action.
Of course, you could carry on as if this is not an issue….
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