Project Management

Why Agile and APM certifications are gaining momentum over PRINCE2 in job ads

Learning People Project Management expert, Matt Everitt, explains in simple terms why Agile and APM certifications are increasingly in demand in job advertisements, signalling a transformation in the project management industry.

In the project management field, certifications play an integral role in demonstrating required skills, knowledge, and behaviours. In recent years, there has been a notable shift in the preferences of employers, with Agile and Association for Project Management (APM) certifications becoming more popular than the traditional PRINCE2 certification. 

Agile certifications on the rise

We've seen a significant rise in the number of job ads explicitly requesting Agile certifications. This surge is a result of the fast-growing use of Agile methodologies across all industries, with the latest State of Agile report stating 94% of companies actively use Agile. This is not a surprise given the need for flexibility, speed, and customer-centricity in project delivery.

Demand for APM certifications

Similarly, APM certifications have witnessed a steady rise in demand within the UK project management job market. The most recent report by the Association for Project Management found that more people are becoming APM-certified than ever before. Employers recognise the value of APM certifications in demonstrating a comprehensive understanding of all project management principles, frameworks, and best practices beyond the limited scope of traditional methodologies like PRINCE2. In turn, a huge 95% believed that gaining an APM certification added value to their career.

Preference for Agile mindset

Beyond specific certifications, job ads increasingly emphasise the importance of an Agile mindset and approach. Employers seek candidates who can adapt to change, collaborate effectively with cross-functional teams, and prioritise delivering value to customers. Agile certifications such as AgilePM and PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) indicate that candidates possess the skills and mindset necessary to thrive in modern Agile environments.

Evolution of project management practices

The shift in certification preferences reflects broader changes in project management. While PRINCE2 is still a valuable certification, gov.uk observes that 'using waterfall methods means you may spend 18 months building a service that no longer meets policy, cannot work with the latest technology and does not meet the users' needs'. Agile and APM certifications offer more flexible approaches to project management, aligning with the evolving requirements of today's businesses.

Regional and industry trends

Regional and industry-specific trends also influence certification preferences in job advertisements. In sectors such as IT and software development, Agile certifications are particularly sought after due to the prevalence of Agile methodologies like Scrum and Kanban. Likewise, industries with regulatory requirements or complex stakeholder landscapes may prioritise APM certifications for their emphasis on governance, risk management, and stakeholder engagement. Supporting this, the APM now has nearly 500 UK organisations listed as corporate partners, including major companies such as Balfour Beatty, BT, Deloitte, and extending to the NHS and multiple UK Government departments.

As more job ads prioritise Agile and APM certifications over PRINCE2, project managers at all levels must adapt to these shifting trends to remain competitive in the job market. Investing in these certifications is essential to enhancing your employability across industries and roles. 

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