Skills gap spoils public-private deals

21 July 2004
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22 July 2004

A lack of skills in key areas is jeopardising projects launched under the government's Private Finance Initiative (PFI), according to a survey.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has found that only 8 per cent of its members currently involved in PFI have formal project management qualifications.

The problem is most acute in public-sector project management, where the missing skills include negotiation, whole life-cycle costing, construction, financial modelling, stakeholder management and people skills.

The RICS added that local authorities were particularly guilty, often putting "fairly inexperienced people" in charge of PFI projects.

Its report said: "Interviews suggested that one of the dangers of using an external project manager is that 'loyalty' is often missing. So clients believe an internal project manager is better able to protect their interests. Chartered surveyors and project managers also tend to be involved at the start, in the bidding and construction stages of a project."

Nearly half of the respondents not working in PFI said they had no intention of getting involved, and 17 per cent complained that the right skills were impossible to acquire.

The shortfall in qualified project managers has led to widespread headhunting in both the public and private sectors.

The RICS said more firms needed to get involved in PFI to widen the skills base with on-the- job experience.


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