Tightening links between education and business

One of the critical issues for firms’ competitiveness is the availability of skilled labour. In Russia, both domestic and foreign companies are constantly plagued with the shortage of skilled labour. This is due to the profound changes in the Russian education system and the declining interest of school graduates to primary and secondary level vocational education. The demographic decline in Russia further escalates the problem.

The Northern Dimension Business Council (NDBC) is a cooperation platform, where companies in the ND region jointly try to develop the investment and operational environment. Within the NDBC, a particular Working group on Education and Labour was established four years ago to tackle the labour issues. The group is co-chaired by Philipp Pegorie, President of Alstom Russia and Vadim Novinsky, President of Smart-Holding.

Having analyzed the vocational education and training sector, the working group has come up with recommendations for drastic changes. The main drawback of the Russian educational system is its weak connection to the business community. Therefore, the group has developed potential cooperation and coordination forms between education and business. The mismatch between education and professional requirements at the work places provokes constantly vivid discussions at the meetings of the working group. In the last meeting, the questions of over-education and vocational guidance were actively discussed.

Concrete actions have already been made to find solutions to this problem. Already this year, the international business community in Russia has launched a pilot dual-system project in cooperation with the Russian Government in ten Russian regions. In the pilot program, students will include in their studies also practical internships in the participating companies.

In the future, the working group continues its activities in bringing business and education together. For example, links of educational centers with firms in the metal industry will be strengthened. To conclude, the working group has become an active and productive platform for international business cooperation in the sphere of professional education.

Yaroslav Meshavkin
General Director, Center for interregional cooperation of employers of Northwestern federal district of Russia
Coordinator of the NDBC Working Group of Education and Labor