February 2, 2024 min read

Training the Next Generation of “Rock Star” Construction Project Managers




Online TrainingVector LMS and Training Management

Construction project managers are the glue that holds projects together. As the construction industry evolves and becomes complex, the demand for exceptional project managers has never been higher. But with nearly one third of construction workers on the brink of retirement, AEC firms will have to invest in the next generation of project managers to meet demand. In this blog, we’ll explore how companies can attract new construction talent, address skills gaps, and shape young talent into total rock stars.

The Increasing Importance of Construction Project Management

Saying that construction is becoming more complex is kind of an understatement. In construction, megaprojects are on the rise, and that’s having some pretty big ramifications:

  • Megaprojects require more labor
  • The workforce on complex developments needs to be highly skilled
  • Safety concerns scale with the complexity of a project
  • High inflation and interest rates make construction projects even more expensive, pushing many construction teams to the breaking point
  • Project lead times are longer, adding to the complexity and dependencies for that project

So, it might go without saying that the individuals responsible for managing bigger and more complicated projects are vital.

Construction project managers must successfully navigate the intricate web of timelines, budgets, and personnel to ensure successful outcomes. Their role has evolved beyond traditional project oversight to becoming strategic decision-makers, collaborating with diverse stakeholders and aligning projects with broader organizational goals.

Closing Project Management Skills Gaps in Construction

We need rock star project managers to tackle modern construction projects…but there’s one problem: many recent graduates in AEC fields are lacking critical soft skills.

Skills we have seen to be suffering most in younger employees include setting direction, thinking strategically and effective decision-making—individually and in a team environment—as well as communication across the board, managing conflict and change initiatives, giving and receiving actionable feedback and holding others accountable.

'- Denise Gettman

Leadership Development Specialist

Industry experts are seeing a large gap in communication skills, innovation, and the ability to manage others among employees joining the workforce. But these are skills that are essential for a project manager.

It’s up to companies to close those skills gaps and enable this new generation of construction project managers to thrive.

To close these gaps, we recommend the following:

  1. Conduct knowledge assessments. Whether employees are brand new to your firm or to their role, start by learning where employees are currently at with core skills and competencies.
  2. Revamp onboarding. A new employee’s first weeks on a job are critical to their long-term success. Focus on onboarding training that will set young project managers up with the skills and knowledge they need. And use that time to set clear goals for them and a path for how to get there.
  3. Offer mentorship programs. Before your experienced project managers retire, ask if they would be willing to mentor the next generation. This can help ensure knowledge transfer and provide another resource to young talent in their career development.
  4. Provide clear growth paths. Don’t stop training after onboarding. Continue to coach your construction project managers and train them in industry best practices and standards so they can excel in their career. We’ll talk about this more in the next section!

Career Paths for “Rock Stars” in Construction

So, you’ve got a bunch of young, enthusiastic project managers. Now what? There are numerous potential career paths you can lay out for them. (And fun fact: providing growth opportunities is one of the best ways to retain talent).

The construction landscape offers a variety of avenues for these emerging rock stars. It’s not just about managing projects; it’s about sculpting a career trajectory that aligns with individual passions and aspirations.

  1. Specialization. Specialization allows rock stars to carve out their niche, whether it’s in large-scale commercial projects, green building initiatives, or cutting-edge technologies.
  2. Leadership development. Some project managers are destined for leadership roles as they amass experience and hone their skills. From leading project teams to taking the helm of entire construction firms, the journey is both challenging and immensely rewarding.

Want to start providing learning paths to your project managers? Get our Learning Path Template below.

A Training Plan Template for Construction Project Managers

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Career Growth

Training New Construction Project Managers: How Vector Solutions Can Help

Training the next generation of rock star construction project managers requires a holistic approach. From foundational project management principles to specialized skills like risk management and stakeholder communication, comprehensive training programs play a pivotal role.

Integrating hands-on experiences, mentorship initiatives, and exposure to real-world projects ensures that new project managers are not only knowledgeable but also adept at applying their skills in dynamic AEC environments.

But, ultimately, relying solely on in-person and instructor-led training is expensive, time-consuming, and not even the most effective approach. Many construction firms rely on eLearning to train employees on the essentials for their role and to help them stay current on industry trends.

Vector Solutions offers tailored online courses that meet the needs of modern project managers in construction. Your firm can then track success and course completions using a Learning Management System (LMS) designed for AEC companies. With Vector Solutions as a strategic ally, training the next generation of “rock star” project managers is simple.

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