The adoption of a National Plan for developing professional standards was part of the May 2012 presidential executive orders, which aim to create a solid economic foundation for Russia’s social development.
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Speech at a meeting on developing professional standards
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,
Today, we will be discussing a subject that might seem boring and dry – namely, the work on professional standards. But, in reality, this is a very important issue for developing the economy, for the labour market, and for nearly every worker. Professional standards should set forth clear, precise requirements toward experts’ job skills, and serve as a benchmark for people – what knowledge and skills they should have in order to be in demand on today’s job market. In the hands of the government, the system of professional standards is set to become one of the main instruments for modernising the economy, ensuring high living standards for people through well-paid, highly productive and effective labour.
I will note that many existing requirements in various professional fields are hopelessly outdated, with some of them created 20 or even 30 years ago. Some lists of expert knowledge and skill requirements are only a few sentences long. Clearly, you cannot build a modern economy and labour market with such superficial requirements for various professions. Thus, the well-known executive orders from May of last year set apart the objectives for developing new professional standards. Some work has already been done by the Government.
The terms “Professional Standards” and “Worker Qualifications” have already been defined in the Labour Code. The Labour Ministry has organised the work to develop professional standards. However, the problems that could devalue the final results of all this work are already obvious. Most importantly, the involvement of professional associations in this work is low, and they are not always satisfied with the quality of the final product. And as we all understand, this is the most important element in all this joint activity. We don’t want to see a situation when all the work was done, but it all ended up in the wastepaper bucket or was simply shelved.
Colleagues, there are several issues I would like to draw your attention to. First, we cannot chase after high numbers. Granted, there are certain parameters we agreed upon, and it would be good for all of them to be fulfilled. I insist that all this be completed but, of course, it shouldn’t be detrimental to the quality. What’s most important is to ensure that the quality is high and that the standards we develop are relevant. The key precondition here is the independent adoption of the final product by professional associations and trade unions. The expertise must be extra-departmental and competent.
Second, many companies, both private and public, adopt standards for internal use, but so far they have not rushed to share them with their colleagues in their field or the in economy overall. In general, the business community is not sufficiently motivated to participate in the creation of professional standards and believes that such efforts will not be in demand.
The government must give a clear signal that these standards will be implemented in practice. I therefore suggest that we start in our own domain. To begin with, professional standards should become mandatory for state organisations, companies with public participation and all budget-funded institutions.
Third, it is imperative to develop a national classification of professional activities that will reflect emerging economic needs rather than focus on the past, and respond to the challenges of the future. We must develop professional standards on this basis, and we should begin with the most in-demand professions.
I particularly want to note that professional standards will only serve to create a high-quality economy if they become a key component in the overall system of national qualifications. It should include several crucial elements: professional standards and sectorial qualification requirements, as well as educational standards.
Professional standards should become an honest benchmark for the higher education system, and a mandatory requirement – I want to stress this – for developing curricula at our universities, schools and colleges. We must tackle this challenge now; otherwise professional standards simply will not work.
Moreover, the mechanism for confirming workers’ qualifications using a professional exam should become an essential part of the system we are creating. To do so, it is imperative to build a whole network of independent certification centres. They must verify experts’ professional level.
This assessment should serve as a kind of passport attesting to an individual’s professional abilities during the hiring process. It is imperative to carefully consider the accreditation mechanism for such centres. Overall, I feel it would be worthwhile to develop a set of measures that will lead to the creation of such a national qualification system.
I ask the Government to work on this jointly with the Agency for Strategic Initiatives. I also feel it is fundamentally important to link the efforts and best practices of state agencies, leading professional associations and employers.
These professional standards – for better or worse, we know this well from history – used to be put up in the streets, as far back as Peter the Great’s era: boots were hung up outside shoemakers’ workshops, and other tradesmen would hang up other objects. That was the conventional professional standard. Now, we are living in different times, which call for different requirements. Therefore, we must approach this matter as seriously and professionally as possible.
Let’s discuss this topic in more depth.