How project managers can narrow the skills gap

I am hearing from those who attend our project management training courses that there are problems in getting the correct resources for projects:

• we cannot recruit the right quality of staff
• we need a specialist HR person but we do not have one

A web search shows that there is a skills shortage in the UK:

Open University opens Open University launches computing BSc to plug business skills gap in IT workforce

Sky launches graduate training academy to plug future skills gap

If you combine this with company headcount reductions this poses a real issue for project managers. So, what can the project manager do to try and deal with skills issues?

What skills do you need? What skills do you have?

1. Recognise there is a skills issue that could affect their projects – this may seem obvious but some project managers openly say that they have not thought this aspect through
2. Identify the risks associated with not having the right skill set for the project – document on risk log. But, the problem will still persist and the project manager will need to be proactive in dealing with this. How…..?
3. Analyse what skills are needed in their projects. Now, this is not as easy as it appears and may require some support from the training/HR areas. I always suggest identifying the skills and competencies required to enable the project to be delivered. The chart below may well help.

You can use the above table in several ways:

• By identifying the competencies/skills needed to deliver your projects effectively. You will need to spend some time working on this issue and may want to use a training/HR specialist who could help

• Measuring who has the skills and competencies you require. You may have to run a project with a team given to you…that’s all that is available. So, you can analyse who has the skills/competencies and who has not.

• Using in the recruitment of your team. Some project managers have this option. So, certainly for larger project why not treat who comes onto the team as a recruitment activity. Use the competencies to test people against. You may need HR/training support.

• Identifying the capacity you need for the project e.g. you may need 2 people to cover the contract management area – how many can actually do this work?

• Developing a training plan; for individuals and the team.

The current skills shortages will not get any better any time soon. This could leave the project manager with problems in delivering projects. Project managers will need to proactively manage this situation and some of the above suggestions should help.

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