Transport project management contributes £4.7 billion to UK economy after 33% growth – APM Golden Thread Report 2024

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A new report by the Association for Project Management (APM), the chartered membership organisation for the project profession, has found the transport sector of the project management profession has grown by a third in five years to contribute £4.73 billion of annual gross value added (GVA) 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.

Overall, the project management profession now contributes to the UK economy £186.8bn of GVA – a key measure of economic output and productivity. This represents a growth of 19% from £156.5bn in 2019. 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.

When broken down by individual sectors within the project management profession, the transport GVA stood at £4.73bn. The rise of 33% from £3.56bn in 2019 was the fourth-highest increase out of all 18 sectors recorded in the 2024 report.

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

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

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 report 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. This includes the transport sector within project management which has seen a significant 33% rise in its UK GVA contribution in just five years.

“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.”

Dave Corbin, Head of Client Accounts at Gleeds, said: “Successful projects – delivering the intended benefit on time and within budget – require strong project management. Without it the myriad of developments that the country needs to future-proof itself would simply not materialise. 

“In the past the role of the project manager has been underestimated but I believe we have seen a shift in perspective and the value of having an effective, collaborative and highly skilled project leader is now widely recognised. I only hope that the positive trends revealed in this report continue and that as a profession we’re able to attract and retain enough skilled people to be able to meet increasing demand.”

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.”

Key findings from the report

The report, entitled in full: ‘Golden Thread: A study of the contribution of project management and projects to the UK’s economy and society’, commissioned by APM and undertaken by PwC Research, found:

  • The project profession remains a key contributor to the UK economy with an estimated 2.32 million project management (PM) full-time equivalents (FTE) – a rise of almost 10% from 2.13 million in 2019
  • The project profession contributes £186.8 billion gross value added (GVA) – up by almost 20% from £156.5 bn in 2019 and equivalent to 9.2% of the UK economy. In contrast, construction GVA is £120.9bn and transport & logistics GVA is £63.4bn
  • Professional and business services is the largest contributor to PM GVA and FTEs, representing a quarter of GVA and a third of FTE approximately
  • Growth in non-traditional PM sectors such as IT and tech: GVA (£14.4bn) and FTEs (166,000) have both doubled
  • Over 50% of businesses anticipate more projects over the next three years – a significant increase from 2019
  • 68% of businesses think more organisations and sectors realising the value of PM will act as a positive enabler of growth
  • Over half of organisations are facing challenges in finding the right PM skills – compared to a third in 2019
  • 56% of businesses believe that difficulty in attracting new talent will act as a barrier to the growth of the PM profession
  • Women were almost twice as likely to not be familiar with PM as a career

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