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Economy Needs Drivers, Doctors, Mechanics

The article originally published on ng.ru

Satellite imagery interpreters are not particularly popular with employers

photo credit: ng.ru

The construction industry is still looking for new workers.
Photo by Arseny Neskhodimov (NG Photo)

Another University enrollment campaign is unfolding in Russia, prompting many families to start thinking of what professions are future-proof. Analysis of the “Employment in Russia” vacancy database shows that more “hands-on” jobs, such as a driver, a doctor, teacher, salesman, etc., are more demanded. But these are not exactly the professions a technology breakthrough would require. The Ministry of Labor published a list of future-oriented professions, but the current demand for most of them is still negligible.

The most demanded professions in today’s Russia are drivers (almost 90,000 vacancies), doctors (over 57,000 vacancies), mechanics (over 52,000), teachers at various levels (just under 49,000), engineers (about 49,000), sales assistants (over 34,000), and nurses (more than 32,000).

This data was obtained by analyzing the Russian national vacancy database “Employment in Russia” (trudvsem.ru). Most vacancies published by employers are in industries like manufacturing, construction, healthcare, transport, commerce, education, and so on.

“Most of the vacancies are for doctors, nurses, primary health workers, sales assistants, engineers, and specialists in information and communication technologies. There are also many requests for drivers, cooks, seamstresses, electrical and gas welders, machinists, mechanics, maintenance technicians”, Russian National Labor Research Institute (VNII Labor) experts reported earlier.

HeadHunter reports similar trends. According to this job-seeking website, the top ten most demanded vacancies this May included sales assistants, customer service managers, sales managers, sales representatives, programmers, engineers, call center operators, drivers, construction workers and cooks.

Many families are facing a dilemma over choosing the professions for their children. What professions can be called future-proof in today’s Russia? Ones that are highly demanded now? Or ones that are absolutely new and will come to the fore at a later point, according to experts?

Both options are risky: a profession that is highly demanded today may become irrelevant tomorrow; absolutely new professions may not live up to the expectations. Both options can be a win, too: the first one will prevail if no radical change is experienced by the economy; the second one will be in the wins if the much-awaited technological breakthrough does happen.

This year most school graduates entering Universities choose “pedagogical specializations, IT professions and healthcare”, Russian Minister of Science and Education Mikhail Kotyukov reported earlier. This choice seems to be in line with the current demands of the labor market.

Several years ago the Ministry of Labor approved the List of Demanded, New and Future-Oriented Professions in the Labor Market (posted on trudvsem.ru portal). It contains numerous options that are expected to be relevant to a country attempting to develop hi-tech industries. Some of the industries mentioned include nanotechnologies, information and communication technologies, aerospace industry, nuclear industry, etc.

However, for many professions shown as future-oriented in that list there seems to be exactly zero demand at the moment. Here are just a few examples: “specialist in the field of semiconductor laser development”, “Satellite imagery interpreter”, “radio engineer in aerospace industry”, “smart home installer”, etc. Who, when and where will need these specialists?

“Indeed, a specific vacancy may not always be found in the reference list. A profession is a broader term, and the same profession may be linked to several vacancies”, VNII Labor press service explained to NG. “That’s why the list of professions shows applicable positions in the description section of the respective professions. Vacancies are generally placed for specific positions, while profession name may not be the same as the position name.” Further, VNII Labor added: “Highly demanded professions will not necessarily be massive, but they may well be key to certain industries or even individual enterprises. This includes, among other things, rare and not easily available professions, which require special, often expensive, training. You won’t see many vacancies for these professions, if any.”

Indeed, if we take “smart home installer” as an example, this profession corresponds to positions like “supervisory and automation electrical equipment fitter” (more than 80 vacancies), “electrical equipment repairs and maintenance technician” (almost 9700 vacancies). While a “satellite imagery interpreter” would correspond to positions like “research scientist in the field of physics and astronomy” (over 330 vacant jobs), “physicist” (over 1,500 vacancies).

In any case, Professor Elena Yakhontova from RANEPA Higher School of Corporate Governance claims these lists of future-oriented professions are relevant, as they reflect the current trends of the economy of knowledge, showing young people the prospective areas for choosing professions, with big career growth prospects. “But as far as our labor market is concerned, experts say it does not match the economy of knowledge model, that’s why it is mostly traditional, frequently archaic professions that are demanded” Elena Yakhontova explains. “The wages are also far from the expectations of young talents and the economy of knowledge.” Nevertheless, Russia does have a number of hi-tech enterprises in need of future-oriented specialists. “So far, however, large-scale hiring is out of the questions. Only one-off hires. When it comes to this type of vacancies, companies tend to seek proven candidates with actual project experience”, Ms. Yakhontova explains further.

Venture investor and Universa Blockchain founder Alexander Borodich says traditional professions may still be in high demand today, but a technology revolution is inevitable. “It will result in a growth of demand for hi-tech managers and specialists. Meanwhile, the development of Internet and cloud technologies will erase the borders as we know them, and millions of existing jobs, primarily in the administrative sector, will disappear”, the expert believes.

“Currently there is high demand for programmers and information security specialists in the Russian labor market”, Mr. Borodich continues. “Everyone needs skilled engineers that go beyond the technology part of their work and are familiar with the enterprise business processes. Everyone needs robotics engineers and programmers who can develop artificial intelligence and platforms based on distributed ledger technologies.”

“The Government recently drafted a National Technology Initiative (NTI-2035), which stipulates active development of ten markets, or so-called Nets”, says Olga Lebedinskaya, Associate Professor Plekhanov Russian University of Economics. “And each one of these markets definitely requires professional human resources. This is the future.” The markets in question are AutoNet, AeroNet, EnergyNet, NeuroNet, FoodNet, HealthNet, SafeNet, FinNet, MariNet, TechNet.

For example, the healthcare sector we all know will be transformed into HealthNet, shaping demand for medical equipment architects; bio-ethicians; genetics consultants; IT medics; medical robot operators; molecular nutritionists; IT geneticists; cyber-prosthetic and implant developers; healthy ageing consultants; and so on, the expert explains.

“The demand for human resources in the NTI market is expected to reach about 300,000 persons by 2035”, Ms. Lebedinskaya says. “We expect that most of this demand will be covered by home-grown specialists trained in ‘hobby societies’.”

Right now, “just over 46,000 students, or 6% of all graduates in Russia a year, are capable of working in NTI-2035 markets. However, today’s students mainly get classical education, which is clearly not enough to work in the markets of the future”, the expert admits. Hobby societies, according to Ms. Lebedinskaya, are unable to address the issue fully either.

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