August 1, 2022

Pandemic-Rebound Part 2: What Are The General Outlooks And Opportunities From Around The World?

There's no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has wrecked havoc of unbelievable proportions: Economic and geopolitical systems weakened, high commodity prices, inflation, as well as disruptions to the international trade and supply chains. Despite all of that, countries have done their best to overcome the hard-hitting impacts to their economies, in addition to proving how resilient they are in different settings. However, even with plenty of recovery practices in action, many experts fear that a global economic recession is on the horizon.

Apart from that, the world of work has changed dramatically across all industries, and nearly all have invested in a digital way of doing business. Thanks to each country's efforts to get back on their feet, job opportunities still abound in various parts of the world, especially for those who possess the necessary knowledge and skills, as well as the courage and mindset to explore and rule new dimensions.

This is consistent with the findings of the Project Management Institute's (PMI) 2021 Talent Gap report, which estimates that by 2030, the world will require 2.3 million additional project management professionals annually to keep up with demand. Adapted from the PMI 2022 Jobs Report, let's take a look at the current opportunities and outlooks that are driving demand for project leaders by region:

RegionThe OutlookThe Opportunity
Asia PacificThis part of the world is a manufacturing powerhouse that has fueled economic growth by capitalising on international demand for its goods. Exports have been increasing in the region until pandemic-related setbacks. For instance, Japan’s growth rate decreased by an estimated 0.8% when the country’s Covid-19 cases increased in late 2021, leading to lockdowns. Additionally, the IMF significantly cut its growth projection for the Asia-Pacific region in October compared to earlier projections, citing the region's uneven policy support and slow vaccination coverage. Nevertheless, all indicators point to growth in the coming year. In contrast to South Korea's projected growth of 2.7%, Australia's economy is projected to expand by 3.5%, New Zealand's by 3%, and Japan's by 2.3% in 2022.Although exports may be the main driver of economic growth in the region, hiring is not the only encouraging trend. According to market research company Mordor Intelligence, fintech is booming in the area and is predicted to grow by 16% annually through 2026. Throughout the pandemic, Australia had remarkably low rates of job switching, but this is now changing as the inflow of project talent from abroad has decreased due to border closures brought on by Covid-19. Despite the worst hiring outlooks for Q1 2022, employers in all 40 countries surveyed expressed optimism. Construction, healthcare, government, and social work all face potential contractions, but banking, finance, IT, and telecom show encouraging hiring sentiments.
ChinaThe IMF predicts that the second-largest economy in the world will see GDP growth slow from 8% in 2021 to 5.6% in 2022. According to the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, the nation is experiencing an energy crisis due to record-high coal and natural gas prices, which may hinder the government's ambitious plans to transition to renewable energy sources. Also, one of the biggest worries is China's highly indebted real estate market. Meanwhile, the Chinese government unveiled a five-year plan to increase employment and wage growth in light of the nation's anticipated record 9.1 million new workers in 2017. By 2025, 55 million new urban jobs must be created to keep the official urban unemployment rate at 5.5%. There are signs that project activity will pick up in the interim.China's finance ministry committed CNY1.55 billion to wind farms, CNY2.28 billion to solar power plants, and CNY38.24 million to biomass power generators, in November. The need for project leaders is then anticipated to increase due to China's energy transition plan and the requirement to prepare for climate change risks. Private businesses also want to intensify their sustainability efforts. According to Karl Fjellstrom, managing director of Far East Mobility in Guangzhou, local eco-friendly transportation initiatives will spur demand for project talent. In addition, the pandemic is boosting opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry, particularly for biologic medicines, and there’s a sizable market for project management and technical personnel.
EuropeThe European Union's economy is strengthening, with 2021's end-of-year GDP growth expected to be 5.2%. The OECD anticipates that the GDP of the eurozone will increase by 4.3% this year and that unemployment rates will return to pre-epidemic levels, barring unanticipated issues from other Covid-19 variants. But supply chain problems, particularly in the transportation and construction industries, have exacerbated bottlenecks and slowed manufacturing efforts. Growth and job gains will be restricted until pricing and supply chain disruptions are stabilised due to the ensuing spike in inflation, which will be 5% in December 2021. Several nations are taking actions to encourage project funding and spur job growth over time to lessen the effects of disruptions in Europe's energy supplies and unrelated spikes in natural gas and electricity prices. For instance, the United Kingdom enacted a two-year "super deduction" tax break, while France’s 2030 plan will invest €30 billion over the following five years in a variety of commercial sectors.A record-breaking US$121 billion was invested in European technology in 2021, more than tripling the amount invested the year before. The rapid rate of pandemic-driven digitisation, combined with this investment and the IT industry's attempt to fill a talent gap, have created the ideal IT opportunities for project professionals. In many industries, like transportation and construction, where project leaders are required to promote innovation while minimising risk, there’s a shortage of labour. This shortage, coupled with supply-chain disruptions, has led to an increase in demand for project professionals in these sectors. The need for project managers for renewable energy sources is being fueled by the rising price of fossil fuels and the increasingly ominous climate predictions. As part of his France 2030 plan, President Macron has also set aside €8 billion for energy initiatives, intending to lower greenhouse gas emissions and becoming a global leader in green hydrogen.
Latin AmericaDespite having a GDP growth rate of 6.3% in 2021, this region is only anticipated to grow by 3% this year. This is due to a widespread and historic drought crippling the hydroelectric generation in Latin America, which once provided the majority of Brazil's electricity. Governments are now relying on imported natural resources as energy prices globally soar. The presidential elections scheduled this year in Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Brazil, also have a history of disrupting the economy. There are some encouraging signs amidst the fear and uncertainty, even though employment levels in many Latin American countries are still significantly below their pre-epidemic levels and inflation is rising fast. Critical projects in Latin America will be financed by the Build Back Better World global investment initiative, which the G7 group of major industrialised economies launched in June.According to Elton Soares, PMP, lead project manager, GE, Santa Cantarina, Brazil, companies are constantly trying to adapt, so project professionals who are knowledgeable about the latest developments are needed. And anyone who can assist businesses in navigating the pandemic and the emergence of AI is in a good position to advance their careers. While there are opportunities in all industries, the manufacturing and technology sectors have the most open positions for project managers. There are more IT job openings than qualified candidates, based on the study published in late 2021 by Brazil's Softex. In 2022, 400,000 IT positions, according to Softex, are expected to be vacant. Opportunities in technology aren't just limited to conventional IT. To remain relevant for digital consumers, healthcare, retail, education, and financial services are becoming more and more entwined with technology. To stand out to hiring managers, job candidates should highlight any agile experience and professional certifications.
Middle East & North AfricaIn 2022, the Middle East and North Africa should see a reduction in the economic damage caused by the pandemic and falling oil prices, opening the door for another round of the region's famed high-profile megaprojects. Given the rapid Covid-19 vaccination campaigns and government spending initiatives related to the pandemic, the IMF increased its economic growth projection for the region to 4.1%. Late in 2021, oil production grew significantly, and prices climbed to their highest level since 2014. The World Travel & Tourism Council reports that tourism is also on the rise, with growth expected to reach about 27% in 2021. Even though those figures are below the average for the world, Expo 2020 Dubai may help increase them, as the emirate reported receiving more than 1 million foreign visitors in just a month of October. The hospitality industries in Qatar and Bahrain were severely impacted by the pandemic as well, but they report encouraging increases in tourist spending and travel in late 2021, largely due to Qatar hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2022.All indications are that project activity and job opportunities will pick up as core industries recover. For instance, it's anticipated that construction spending will surpass US$110 billion for the second year in a row in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council. Moreover, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are predicted to be at the forefront of the field thanks to their diverse portfolios of residential, mixed-use, commercial, and touristic buildings, as well as their energy and infrastructure projects. Long associated with fossil fuel energy, the Middle East and North Africa are now home to several renewable energy projects, such as the Al Dhafra Solar Photovoltaic Plant in the United Arab Emirates. And BP recently announced plans to build multiple gigawatts of renewable energy and green hydrogen projects in Oman by 2030. Project managers must still adjust to pandemic-driven changes that redefine "business as usual" even as the economy begins to recover. Additionally, there’s a demand for project talent in developing research areas like software engineering. These research teams will require more members who can create procedures and frameworks.
North AmericaDespite of supply-chain bottlenecks, a talent shortage, and worries about Covid-19 variants, growth in the United States and Canada is anticipated to continue. This year, the IMF predicts that the GDP of the United States will rise by 5.2% and that of Canada by 4.9%, both of which are 0.8 percentage points less than in 2021. The ability of government officials to control inflation will also determine how quickly and effectively the economy can grow. Even though the Great Resignation movement may be currently centred in the United States, the unemployment rate fell to 3.9% in November, the lowest level since Covid-19 first appeared. Three million American workers left their jobs during the pandemic, and many businesses are having trouble getting them back. Many businesses are increasing salaries to combat rising inflation and a lack of qualified workers. The Conference Board conducted a survey, and the results show that businesses are budgeting an average of 3.9% of payroll for wage increases in 2019—the highest level since 2008.Because there are so many opportunities in the United States, job seekers can generally indulge in the luxury of being picky. The sectors expected to hire massively are manufacturing, professional and business services, transportation, and construction. The healthcare industry is also flourishing. The auto industry and other segments of the manufacturing sector in Canada have been slowed by supply-chain disruptions. As a result, there will also be a high demand across all industries for project managers who can proactively identify, manage, and reduce the risks associated with supply-chain bottlenecks. The need for changemakers who can lead these transformations will grow as organisations move further toward automation and digitisation as a result of hiring and logistical issues. In the first half of 2021, the declining foreign investment made it difficult for Canada's mining, agriculture, manufacturing, and energy sectors to thrive. The Conference Board of Canada, however, predicts that as exports rebound in 2022, there may be a corresponding rise in demand for talent in those industries.
South AsiaThe demand for goods has only grown over the last two years, and India's significant contribution to the electronics supply chain is anticipated to contribute to the nation's 8.3% growth this year. However, the disparities in South Asia's economies continue to be enormous. Each nation's economy has been influenced by different levels of tourism dependence, extreme weather events, and Covid-19 containment strategies. The pandemic's uneven effects have been felt not only along geographic lines but also along gender lines. According to a 2021 study from Azim Premji University, among Indians who lost their jobs during the early-2020 lockdown, nearly half of women had trouble finding new employment, compared to just 7% of men. Inequities for women and unskilled workers have only grown worse as a result of the pandemic. The World Bank's most recent statistics show that from late 2020, just 16.1% of workers were women, down from a peak of 26% in 2005.It's not surprising that the IT industry in India continues to offer many job opportunities, especially in light of the significant push for digitisation across industries. Many new IT projects have become available as a result of the rapid pace of digitisation in both internal and customer-facing operations. In the meantime, a survey by Willis Towers Watson predicts that salaries in India will increase by almost 9% in 2022. Companies are more willing to spend more on project managers who have an entrepreneurial mindset, can affect culture change, and can form enduring, effective teams. Another booming industry is telecom. The Naukri JobSpeak Report indicates that between November 2020 and November 2021, hiring activity in the industry increased by 91%. Additionally, professionals with eight to twelve years of experience were in high demand across all industries. Another promising sector is telecom. The hiring activity in the industry increased by 91% between November 2020 and November 2021, according to the Naukri JobSpeak Report. The most in-demand professionals across all industries were those with 8-12 years of experience.
Sub-Saharan AfricaThe GDP growth predicted for this region's economy in 2022 is expected to be 3.8%, or almost equal to the gains from the previous year. However, that regional rate obscures the fact that different nations are experiencing unequal growth. For instance, growth in Ghana and Kenya is anticipated to be at least 6%, compared to much more modest growth forecasts for Nigeria (2.7%) and South Africa (2.2%). The two main factors influencing global trade and commodity price increases are growth in general. However, low Covid-19 vaccination rates keep limiting project potential. The World Health Organisation reports that only 6% of the population in Africa had received Covid-19 shots as of late 2021, making it the region with the slowest vaccination rollout worldwide.Sub-Saharan Africa is looking toward much-needed infrastructure upgrades, many of which are supported by government assistance, despite challenges brought on by pandemics. Various projects, such as upgrades to water supply systems, government-subsidised housing, and student housing, have been launched in South Africa with the assistance of a US$7 billion fund of private and public investments. Around US$32 billion of global aid are spent in Africa, which is fueling the creation of new development jobs there, up to 45% of which will require project talent. Project management hiring will increase as a result of the growing demand in development organisations to show accountability and results. The need for project managers who can support teams in delivering proactive and sustainable solutions is also being driven by climate change.
(Source: Project Management Institute, PMI)

If you're looking for more about the future of a post-pandemic world, why not check out our other article coverages:

1) Pandemic-Rebound Part 1: Which Industries/New Technologies Will Thrive And See A Rise In Hiring?

2) Pandemic-Rebound Part 3: What Are The Long-Term Impacts And Newest Trends We Can Expect?

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