Hidden profession revealed – project management contributes £156bn to UK economy and employs almost 1 in 12 workers

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New research, commissioned by the Association for Project Management (APM) and conducted by PwC UK, has for the first time revealed the scale of the contribution the project profession makes to the UK economy.

The new report, entitled ‘The Golden Thread’. has identified that project management in the UK now generates around £156.5 billion of annual Gross Value Added (GVA)* and an estimated 2.13 million full-time equivalent workers (FTEs) are employed in the UK project management profession.


This means around 7.9% of UK employment (full time equivalents FTEs) delivers almost 8.9% of total UK GVA.


This compares favourably with the construction industry, with a GVA of £113bn, and the financial services sector at £115bn.


Debbie Dore, Chief Executive of APM welcomed the report stating: “Project management has for too long been cast as a ‘Cinderella’ or ‘hidden’ profession, working hard behind the scenes to ensure other’s success. But this new report recasts the profession into the role of a ‘golden thread’ – a seam that runs through UK plc, helping to develop new services, drive strategic change and sector-wide reform. In short, this report finds that the project profession is a thread truly woven into the fabric of UK societal and economic success.”


As the recognition of the importance of good project management grows, so does optimism among organisations in all sectors about the future of project management. 50% of survey respondents expected the number of projects they undertake would remain at a similar level over the next three years, 40% predict a growth in project size, and 34% expect project budgets to grow over the next three years.


However, this will not happen in the absence of challenges and 52% of organisations expressed concern over the perceived impact of political uncertainty in the UK. Just over one third (35%) rank this as the single greatest challenge of the past three years and 56% of businesses forecast that this will still be an issue by 2021. Skills and capability shortages were also cited as a potential barrier by 39% of organisations.


Sandie Grimshaw, Partner at PwC UK noted: “The project management profession is relatively new compared to some other professions, such as lawyers, teachers and doctors. However, as project management is a core competence vital to organisations in the UK, the profession is critical and will continue to grow in stature.”