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Encouraging the next generation of project professionals

Female project manager holding papers

When you’re next at a project management conference or event, take a look around at the audience. What do you see? Who’s missing?

One of the most interesting things I’ve found when attending project management conferences and events is the distinct lack of young people in attendance. Not school children, but people in their mid to late twenties and early thirties just starting out or with only a few years’ project management experience under their belts.

This makes me wonder – is our community doing enough to not only attract young talent, but also to nurture and grow them?

I’ve noticed for example, that project management events don’t utilise social media very well. I’ve lost count of the conferences where I’m one of a very small number of people tweeting. Or those where the conference itself either doesn’t have an official hashtag or organisers don’t monitor, promote or use the hashtag. This is especially true in the run up to the events where social media can be a really powerful way to attract people. Even when social media is used, it’s restricted to Twitter and maybe Facebook, when most young people congregate on Snapchat or Instagram.

Today’s young people are digital natives who live and breathe social media. By not embracing or using these channels effectively, project management event organisers show how out of touch they are with the next generation.

Or is it something more fundamental than that? Do we need to look at how we can make project management an attractive career option? After all, it’s a skill that most people utilise at some point in their lives.

Some of the things that could be emphasised as a way of promoting project management as a career choice are:

  1. Flexibility
  2. Transferrable skills
  3. Continuous learning

These attributes should all be highly attractive to today’s up-and-coming young professionals, who, unlike older generations, are not looking to commit to a single career. They’re looking for a job with some variety, that will challenge them and teach the skills they need to move onto the next thing.

A job in project management ticks those boxes – it’s just up to us in the professional already to sell that story. Perhaps in the form of a Snapchat story?

How do you think we can attract people to a career in project management?

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