Common skills in an evolving profession

From: Association for Project Management
Published: Thu Jan 20 2022

Blog posted by: Jackie Martin, 18 Jan 2022.

Depending on where in the world you are, which sector or role you are in, or even the type of organisation, the skills needed to effectively operate in your project's environment can be far-ranging.

Knowing this, the achievement of updating our Competence Framework to support the project profession into the future was no small undertaking and one that highlights the challenge of identifying the common framework of competences that sits at the core of our profession. This includes topics that are impacting us now and will ultimately become more vital as they embed around our change initiatives.

For 2022, we introduced diversity and sustainably; two topics of growing prevalence in industry.

Sustainability focuses on the need to proactively alter behaviours and apply them in all areas of our project work, this simply can't be ignored given today's environmental challenges.

Diversity and inclusion, meanwhile, highlights the opportunities to proactively address the institutionalised inequalities that may exist and how we can empower diverse teams to achieve better project outcomes.

Both of these are possibly small changes for some, but with huge results for projects and the environment. We hope these will become normal practice within our profession as we move forward, and our next framework can evolve and support the profession to become competent in more emerging areas. We saw this in our APM Competence Framework 1st edition, which included technology management for using computers and systems, which was not present in the 2nd edition following re-evaluation.

In the wake of growing demand for a multitude of projects, each larger and more complex than the last, the benefits offered by having a shared framework of competences shouldn't be underestimated:

  • Having a set of competences to aim for allows organisations to provide a benchmark to their teams and provide training and development against it to help grow their individuals and retain talent.
  • It allows individuals to develop transferable skills that will be required, irrespective of the project's characteristics.
  • For industry, it sets out an expectation of what skills their project team can bring.

It is important to note that this applies only to the core skills of a project professional. If we were to address all the niche, specialist or sector-specific skills required, our framework would be excessively long. But that doesn't diminish the importance of these competences and they should be considered when looking at your own skills profile.

Happily, our year-long consultation to support our update and gain views from across the profession showed that we had what was already a well-respected and concise framework to build on. And while small adjustments were needed to keep pace with the profession, the bread and butter' of a project professional's competences remain consistent.

While this is positive, the environment we operate in continues to change. We mustn't ignore that change; we must embrace it if we are to remain effective in our roles and the inclusion of our two new competences reflects this.

Alongside our APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition and our qualifications, which create a shared language, understanding and skill set amongst teams, our framework is now primed to provide a core set of competences required to be effective in our roles for years to come.

Explore the Competence Framework here.

About the Author

Jackie Martin

Jackie has a career in the education sector, having gained a PGCE in Post-Compulsory Education and Training and spent over 20 years teaching adults before moving into the not for profit sector. The last 10 years of her career have been working as part of the senior management team in professional bodies, with a focus on education and training. In her current role as Director of Education and Lifelong Learning at the Association for Project Management, she is responsible for the development and delivery of the strategy to inspire investment in education and training for those within the project management profession.

Company: Association for Project Management

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