How well does PM program curriculum prepare students for the job?

I have been involved with project management education for over 20 years, and it was not until about six years ago, when I developed the curriculum for our local College PM certification program, that I realized that we can’t teach certain aspects of project management to everyone. There is no mold to generate perfect PMs.

At this time of year, as my classes are done and a new set of graduates get ready to accept their diplomas, I am ponder if we’ve really taught them everything to be ready for the work environment they are about to enter.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that we have covered all the basics that you would expect to find in a good project management program. We’ve shown them what and how to create a charter, reviewed the need for a well-defined Work Breakdown Structure and used software to build a schedule. By the time they leave our 8-month program, they’ve read the PMBOK® Guide from cover to cover, done countless exercises on risk management, quality management, procurement, and requirements gathering. This is not even mentioning the amount of time they’ve spent in group settings hashing out what a product, service or deliverable was going to look like to meet some stakeholder’s need.

We, as instructors, do a great job at sharing our knowledge and expertise with these students whom for the most part are eager to learn, develop marketable skills to bring them close to a valuable work position.

I do believe that there are still areas of knowledge and skills or competency that are not truly being transferred seamlessly or that are not being picked up easily by the students, which is a concern.

Colleges and Universities all over the world have for so long been providers of theories and have developed more recently into varied approaches of application of these theories. It has been clear for some time that a learner is more likely to do better if they are able to apply, work constructively with their newly acquired knowledge. Application-based learning is all the rage.

When it comes to project management, there are areas of application which we should target a bit more but that are not that clear cut to deliver in a classroom setting. Let’s discuss three (3) valuable skills for a PM and the issue of teaching them.

Decision making

Yes, a good PM needs to make decisions on a daily basis. Decision making consistently comes up as one of the top 10 key required skills.

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