Providing Project Management Skills to our Youth is a Community Responsibility

November 01, 2020

When communities invest in teaching youth project management skills, the rewards benefit many. When schools aren't able to prioritize PM skill training for students, local employers and workforce development groups can step in to provide these valuable training opportunities to their future workforce.

For decades, the Project Management Institute (“PMI”), the governing body for the project management (“PM”) profession, has provided substantial evidence proving the value of project management skills and credentials on career opportunities, earnings potential, and community success. If the most recent PMI published “Job Growth and Talent Gap” report doesn’t convince you, reviewing their countless case studies and white papers might do it. Businesses have bought in, investing in project management offices and skills training within their organizations at a growing rate and workforce development training centers have equally invested in PM credentialing programs for displaced adults. Interestingly, there is mounting evidence that these same skills that create positive business returns also provide positive educational outcomes for students who learn these skills early. So, with skills so evidentially in demand and results so powerful, why are we waiting until our talent is in the workforce to teach these valuable skills? It’s time to start developing these skills earlier, providing improved educational outcomes for our students and creating a talent pipeline to benefit our businesses and communities sooner.

Likely there are multiple reasons PM skills aren't regularly making it into K-12 curriculum. First, there is little awareness  among educators of the PM profession and the value of PM skills to our students’ professional and educational careers. While many educators have incorporated project-based learning practices, they aren’t teaching the “how” of project execution or introducing project management as a discipline. Second, there is the ever-present issues of curriculum requirements and educator training. Fitting one more thing into a packed must-do curriculum and finding funds & time to train the teachers is an issue that curriculum specialists deal with daily and most frequently can’t resolve without community support. Finally, content for K-12 hasn’t always been easily accessible and shrinking school budgets don’t have room for expensive curriculum purchases.

So how can we move past these challenges and bring valuable project management training to our youth? Community sponsored training opportunities whether incorporated into school curriculum or provided outside of school hours is one way to overcome the multiple challenges.  Engaging a local PMI chapter for support or booking a training program developed specifically for a youth audience takes away the issue of educator knowledge and school district motivation. Lesson aLIVE has recently launched a seven-session project management fundamentals mini-course that teaches middle and high school students PM basics. Local employers, workforce development groups and youth-serving community partners are all great sources for funding and support since this training ultimately supports community success and development of the future workforce.

Still not convinced? After implementing PM skills training in Honolulu, Joslyn Sato explained, "because project management is a practical skill to have, and since children are assigned projects at an early age, we need to equip them with tools to help them be successful now as well as develop the application of project management as a natural skill so they can also be successful in their future work environment." Listen to Joslyn Sato explain the impact PM training has had within her community:

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