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Project management profession contributes £186bn to UK economy after £30bn five-year growth



A new report by the Association for Project Management (APM), the chartered membership organisation for the project profession, has found that project management in the UK contributes £186.8 billion of annual gross value added (GVA) to the UK economy – a growth of over £30bn in the last five years.

In addition, the profession now employs an estimated 2.32 million full-time equivalent workers (FTEs). It means 8.5% of total UK FTEs are employed in project-related roles and the profession delivers over 9% of total UK GVA – a key measure of economic output and productivity.

The research, based on official employment data, market statistics and a survey of over 500 UK businesses, rubberstamps the significance of the fast-growing profession to the UK economy.

The Golden Thread Report 2024, commissioned by APM and conducted by PwC Research, was published today (April 25th) at a launch event at the Science Museum, London. It follows the first pioneering report in 2019 that assessed the UK project profession’s size as well as its economic and societal contribution.

Key drivers behind the growth include professional and business services – the largest contributor to project management GVA at £47.9bn, a rise of 22% from 2019. Traditional project management sectors have also grown. Construction GVA rose to £33bn (up from £27bn in 2019) and FTEs increased from 260,000 to nearly 300,000.

Other factors behind the growth highlighted by the report include an increasing recognition of the need for effective programme management and transformation across all sectors, while the London 2012 Games was credited for demonstrating the importance of effective project management to ensure successful delivery of large-scale events.

The research found the project profession’s current GVA has seen an increase of almost 20% from £156.5bn in 2019 – representing a £30.3bn increase. The profession’s role was further underscored with the finding that the overall £186.8bn UK GVA figure is worth more than the construction (£120.9bn) and transport and logistics (£63.4bn) sectors combined.

Professor Adam Boddison OBE, Chief Executive of APM, said: “We are excited to be launching our second Golden Thread Report at a pivotal time for project management with the UK economy recovering tentatively and net zero gathering pace.

“Our first groundbreaking report uncovered the scale and impact of the project profession to the UK economy and society that can go easily unnoticed. It emphasised its importance as a vital cross-sector competence no longer solely associated with construction and engineering.

“The Golden Thread 2024 deepens the view that our profession is the most vital ‘golden thread’ running through all sectors of the economy – driving quality, efficiency and strategic change. The economic value our profession adds has grown significantly by £30 billion since 2019 with around 200,000 additional professionals, supported by traditional industries such as professional services and non-traditional industries including IT and technology.

“Our research is a vital contribution to the debate of the project profession as we seek to overcome a variety of challenges and opportunities and continue with our growth trajectory.”

Meanwhile, 68% of businesses polled think more organisations are starting to realise the value of project management as a concept. But over half are facing challenges with the skills gap – compared to a third in 2019 – and a separate 56% raised concerns over recruitment.

John Foster, Chief Policy and Campaigns Officer at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said: “APM’s Golden Thread Report provides clear evidence of the contribution that the project profession makes to the UK economy and society.

“However, it also highlights further evidence of how talent shortages and the difficulty in attracting new talent is a barrier to growth and productivity. We must remove barriers to work to ease these shortages. A greater focus on helping people to gain the skills they need will help to build an inclusive economy where all talent is able to progress and thrive.”

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