Construction’s Achilles heel: Project management

Construction’s Achilles heel: Project management

The construction sector’s Achilles heel has been laid bare for all to see: there aren’t nearly enough project managers to oversee major infrastructure works. In fact, according to research from the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, only 53% of project management vacancies in construction were filled in 2019, its lowest level in eight years.

That’s not taking into account how the coronavirus crisis is having a detrimental impact on the industry right across Australia – and especially in Victoria. So it’s no wonder governments are increasing their allocated funds to help stimulate the economy.

There are many significant long-term benefits of investing in public infrastructure. Even in Victoria, where industries have been most affected, there’s a clear case for how financial stimulation can help revive the economy.

This ‘solution’, however, comes with a few caveats.

Skills shortage in project management

The extra investment means projects will grow in both size and complexity, which subsequently increases risk. It also exposes a problem that has been plaguing the construction sector for years – a bevvy of project management roles but a dearth of qualified project managers to fill them.

There has been significant and increased demand for construction project managers in recent years, yet the quality of applicants leaves much to be desired. According to the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, out of the 24.5 applicants who applied for each construction project management vacancy (on average), only 16.1 were qualified. Even worse, a mere 1.7 applicants were a suitable fit per vacancy.

Construction is seeing increased risk

Such a lack of quality project managers is a major issue, undoubtedly, but it is compounded by the fact that a whopping 89% of construction projects are “delivered late and over budget”, according to the latest data from KPMG.

The solution, clearly, is greater investment – and that is exactly what the Victorian government is doing. However, this has the drawback of creating more jobs for a sector that is already struggling to fill project management roles. In addition to constant pressures to meet time and budgetary goals, contracting organisations are at a greater risk if their projects aren’t managed well at all levels.

Consider the ease with which a project can falter if a project manager isn’t using the correct methodology, the correct project-tracking tools or even the correct terminology. Minor issues can quickly snowball into expensive – and potentially life-threatening – problems.

Using funding for the right purposes

The good news is that Victoria – in tandem with New South Wales – accounts for 68% of total infrastructure funding in Australia, according to the 2019–20 Australian Infrastructure Budget Monitor. This is particularly crucial given the challenges the state is facing with the second wave of COVID-19, harsher lockdown rules and heavier restrictions on the construction sector than anywhere else around the country.

This year’s $53.7 billion in general government infrastructure funding will help Victoria hit the ground running when operations start ramping up again, but it must be funnelled in the right direction. While it’s true that more money means bigger projects, more roles and therefore greater risk if those roles are not filled with suitable people, training can turn unqualified candidates into skilled project managers.

Investing in project management training

Decision-makers on civil engineering projects in Victoria have a billion-dollar opportunity to upskill their people in order to develop better project managers. This is a long-term solution that not only mitigates project risk, but helps alleviate the pressures of unfilled PM roles.

Giving your people the opportunity to gain a nationally recognised qualification in project management means your organisation views the expansion of PM disciplines and capability across the business as a priority.

Over 12 months, participants will learn the principles of project management, join in on high-impact workshops, form their own project teams, check in via webinars, and develop the skill set they need to take your projects to the next level.

Contact us today

Find out more about the benefits of project management training by contacting the experts at PM-Partners. Call us today on 1300 70 13 14.

Project Management in Construction. Victoria’s $61.7b opportunity.

Learn more

Many organisations are unaware that a Certificate IV in Project Management BSB41515 is a traineeship and contributes towards compliance of the mandate

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Related Courses

PM-Partners can deliver these courses on-site (in person or virtually) or in one of our training facilities.

Project Management Fundamentals
Project Management in Practice

The related courses can be taken separately or they can be added to your certification. For more information please call 1300 70 13 14 or email

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