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Experts Discuss Results of the Survey Dedicated to Young Specialists’ Professional Environment and Comprehensive Professional Training of Young People

The youth agenda of the Gaidar Forum held on January 15, 2016 included an expert discussion themed “Russia Seeking Talents: Creating Future Competitiveness Today” organized by ACIG Group of Companies. It was attended by representatives of the leading companies, government authorities and educational institutions, as well as finalists of the Sustainable Future of Russia Platform for Young Professionals 2015. The discussion was moderated by Alexey Shipov, member of the Board of ACIG Group of Companies and Managing Director of the Sustainable Future of Russia Platform, and Dmitry Butashin, Vice-Rector at RANEPA.

The discussion focused on the results of the survey conducted by ACIG Group of Companies in 2015 among Russia’s leading employers and higher education institutions, as well as students and young specialists. The survey spanned over 40 largest Russian companies, more than 20 top higher education institutions and over 500 young people from 47 regions of Russia.

“Today, we are presenting the results of the survey conducted at the end of the last year. The data are still being processed and we will definitely further inform the public of our conclusions. The present event is organized in the form of a live dialogue with a greater focus on opinion and discussion and a smaller share of reports and statements”, Alexey Shipov said opening the discussion.

Youth Labor Market: Lack of Human Resources or Workplaces?

The first issue on the agenda was the role and place of young people in the labor market. According to the survey, many employers claim that there is lack of young human resources, which makes this market a market of jobseekers who can choose among employers and labor conditions. At the same time, the youth survey shows that many young people are unable to find work within three or more months. Data obtained from the leading higher education institutions showed that over 75 per cent of graduates can find job during the first year after they graduate with the majority of them occupying degree-related positions. 

According to Elena Voskresenskaya,advisor to the General Director of TENEX JSC, this outcome is explained inter alia by the fact that young people often seek work at large industrial companies. Thus, for example, Rosatom is one of the top-ranking employers and there is not enough workplace for all young people willing to work there. That is why there is a so-called gap formed when representatives of other industries do not have young candidates seeking employment with them, while large and recognized companies are packed with them”.

Focus on the Development of Social and Personal Competencies

The next aspect of the survey is concerned with the range of competencies required for candidates’ successful employment as seen by employers, universities, institutes and young people. The survey showed that employers consider teamwork to be of primary importance. It is interesting that the three top competencies attributed to successful candidates are not associated with their professional qualities. Higher education institutions and young people themselves have a somewhat different opinion considering professional knowledge and skills important for successful employment.

 “In our selection system we focus to a greater extent on indicators that can predict potential rather than evaluate the existing level of skills development. Besides, one of the key criteria in our system of graduates’ assessment and selection is informed and conscious choice of profession”, Nadezhda Ryabova, Vice President, HR, Unilever, explains.

Alexander Ivlev, Managing Partner at E&Y Russia, considers it important that nowadays emphasis is laid on the development of knowledge required for work in business. “When I started working in business I realized that I am short of particular skills that could not be obtained at the institute - the so-called soft skills. These are the qualities enabling a person to work efficiently in a team, experiment and assume responsibility for the decisions taken, etc. And I am very pleased that higher education programs, quality of education and work with young people have changed considerably”, Alexander Ivlev noted.

Continuing the discussion of desired competencies, Veniamin Kaganov, Deputy Minister of Education and Science of the Russian Federation, pointed out that new realities called for a new approach to education and development of social and professional skills. “The difference in the approach lies in the fact that yesterday’s teams consisted of a leader and the rest of the team following his or her instructions, while today’s team represents a group of personalities supplementing each other, leaders joining forces to attain a common goal”, deputy minister explained. He also added that the Sustainable Future of Russia Platform for Young Professionals was one of the best mechanisms of integrated development of competencies that formed over the past years.

Onsite and Practical Training as a Bridge from a University to Successful Employment

Cooperation between employers and higher education institutions was one of the key issues raised during the discussion due to the presence of a large number of institutes’ representatives collaborating with companies in the field of young people’s professional preparation. What successful practice of cooperation exists today, and what do students and graduates need for successful employment? Employers give their preference to candidates that have at least some experience of work with real businesses. Both higher education institutions and young people understand this.

“Employers actually ask today if a candidate has had onsite or practical training as this demonstrates that a student had time not only for studies, but also for gaining work experience no matter how limited it is”, Tatyana Baskina, Deputy General Manager for Professional Community Affairs at ANCOR, explained.

Nadezhda Ryabova, in her turn, emphasized the importance of taking part in the dialogue of business, universities and government authorities: “We have extensive knowledge and experience in working with higher education institutions preparing specialists that we are ready to share with small and medium-sized business. We are also interested in involving government authorities in this dialogue, as we are convinced that young people’s development should be addressed at three levels, i.e. business, authorities and educational institutions”.

Leonid Bragin, First Vice-Rector of Plekhanov Russian University of Economics, said the following about cooperation with business:“We offer students job placement under joint programs within the framework of the university’s cooperation with business companies. This makes it possible to avoid major interference of work in the educational process”.

Daniil Sandler, Vice-Rector for Economics and Strategic Development of the Ural Federal University, said supporting this statement: “Universities alone fail to ensure professional education, they provide it in partnership with employers. This has already been envisaged in standards, whereas such education shall be also assessed in cooperation with employers”.

Igor Belousov, SAP University Alliances Country Manager for Russia/CIS, shared his idea of what such cooperation between universities and businesses in the fast growing and promising IT area should be like: “A wide range of SAP solutions begins from school, we tell schoolchildren about new formats, industry 4.0. As for students, we offer a special program called “digital sandboxes” that envisages real projects realized by students for companies in the course of practical training. Students have contemporary technologies at their disposal, such as three-dimensional printers, etc. Today, we want to implement such things on the basis of universities”.

Sergey Gil, Head of the Department of Education and Innovations of the Central Union of Consumer Cooperatives of the Russian Federation, shared his view of cooperation between universities and employers:“Assessment parameters and competence models have been formed by now, but the problem is of a different nature: the goals set by employers and higher education institutions do not coincide. I think we should differentiate between the labor force inflow to long-standing positions and cooperation of higher educational institutions and employers based on the personal interest in attracting young people or gradual concurrence of opinions on educational standards”.

The last issue on agenda was devoted to best practices in attracting and retaining young talents. The survey of businesses and higher education institutions shows that traditional career days serve as the core channel for attracting young people, however young candidates do not share this position. As for instruments of retaining young specialists, respondents also had different opinion here. Employers gave preference to such factors as career advancement and horizontal growth potential, as well as professional support. Institutes and universities agree with young people claiming financial motivation to be the chief factor.  

“Speaking about the factors of retaining young people in civil service, its appeal above all depends on stability. Taking into account the current crisis, we can predict that people will try to remain in stability zone ensured by the civil service sector”, Dmitry Butashin said.

“Social orientation and emotional sensitivity are first and foremost in the system of public administration. There have to be people for whom salary does not play the key role and who are prepared to sacrifice their time for professional growth”, Vyacheslav Fedorischev, Director of the Department of Strategic Development of the Russian Ministry of Economic Development, expressed his view of the difference in motivational factors in business and public sector.

Thus, the expert discussion vividly demonstrated the existence of a certain gap between the employers and universities’ views of young people’s employment and revealed a number of issues that called for comprehensive discussion by both parties. Summarizing the event results, participants expressed their eagerness to continue dialogue to ensure maximum quality of young people’s preparation and their integration in the labor market.