Developing Professionals to Deliver Complex Projects

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The Project Management Institute has said the delivery of focused, practical education is vital in developing professionals if Africa is to excel in The Project Economy, Precious Ugwuzor reports

As Africa gets increasingly swept into the tsunami of global digital transformation, it is facing a reality in which technology is accelerating faster than organisations and people. Traditional work patterns are falling away, and an economy driven by projects is ascending, shocking many people with the accelerated pace of change.

As these changes are taking place, Africa is facing a future in which it is expected that the continent will produce some 30 million graduates a year by 2050. Therefore, education, its delivery, and effectiveness will become focal points, says George Asamani, Business Development Leader for Africa at Project Management Institute (PMI).

It is appropriate, he says, that this year the theme for UN’s International Day of Education is ‘Changing Course, Transforming Education.’

One of the areas that Covid-19 heavily impacted and one that is likely to carry long-term consequences is access to education and the enhancement of skills where the focus is on developing professionals who can deliver complex projects in an increasingly distributed environment. Furthermore, it has also been the dominant force in creating a new work ecosystem in which project management and power skills have become vital.

This has compelled business and society to respond by adopting digital transformation and embracing a project-based approach to their deliverables.

At the forefront of those that must adapt are institutes of higher learning. With African universities facing challenges on the content and delivery of education in a digital world, transforming education will require partnerships with the likes of PMI, a global non-profit membership association, to help meet a future tide of demand for skills and leadership.

“The emphasis, as identified by McKinsey and other global authorities, is that 4 out of 5 companies surveyed are looking for people who are leaders, critical thinkers and decision-makers, and value continuous learning. These are the skills espoused by PMI and valuable for those preparing themselves for the competitive workplace,” says Asamani

The PMI response has included offering free curricula and resources to universities designed on a ‘faculty by faculty’ basis geared to meeting global accreditation (GAC) standards. The second leg of their academic resources is a research funding project that offers USD50 000 to selected recipients.

Giving a practical slant to their involvement is the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification offered to students to enable them in the project management industry and connect with professionals already active in the sphere.

Projects are already underway with Mount Kenya University in Kenya and the University of Pretoria in South Africa, where PMI global professional volunteers from the US, Mexico, India, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa are mentoring first-year BCom students.

“One of our prime focuses through the PMI Education Foundation and chapter volunteers is providing skills training and mentoring to colleges and universities. It is at these institutions where there has been sustained demand for courses and degree programmes in project management to be offered,” adds Asamani.

“Education, as pointed out by the UN, is a key element required for achieving sustainable development goals. We are proud that our efforts at PMI accord with at least three of these goals and that we are part of the vanguard of organisations taking tangible steps to help Africa achieve the greatness and place in global affairs that it truly deserves.”