Earlier in the day, the President took part in the Russian Working Youth Forum underway at Uralvagonzavod premises in Nizhny Tagil.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.
We are now in one of Russia’s major industrial centres – in Yekaterinburg in the Urals. The issue we are discussing today –the development of the secondary vocational education system – is especially relevant for this region, as well as for the entire national economy. I believe that this issue, alongside upgrading the national education system and adopting advanced approaches to training workers and engineers, is among the key and basic factors of Russia’s technological and economic breakthrough, for improving the people’s quality of life and real incomes.
As historical experience shows, climbing to new heights and achieving grand and ambitious goals have always been ensured by serious changes in vocational training. That is how it was at the time of the Peter the Great’s reforms – I only just recalled this here in Nizhny Tagil – and during the period of rapid industrial growth in Russia at the end of the 19th century, and later during the Soviet period, in the course of industrialisation and other large-scale development projects.
I would like to point out that the results achieved in recent years in the national economy, in both civilian and military industries, are also based on strong personnel potential. We have consistently engaged in consolidating it, and invested considerable resources in this. Thus, over the past 17 years, government investment in improving the secondary vocational education system has nearly doubled in real terms, or grew nine-fold in nominal terms.
Dual education that integrates training and practice has also taken a big step forward together with enterprises. Businesses are bringing colleges and vocational schools in their fold more often, and actively participating in skills competitions for working professions based on WorldSkills standards.
Our country joined this movement in 2012, and last year the young Russian professionals had the highest team score at the world championship and were successful in IT professions. The Russian team has 58 international level specialists; our economy, which means each and every one of us, needs hundreds of thousands people skilled in their trades.
With our expertise and methodology, it is important that our personnel training system be made to meet or exceed the highest international standards and take into account global technological changes.
New technology and professions are emerging. The very meaning of a blue-collar profession itself has changed and will continue changing: today it essentially means someone with engineering skills at the least, with qualifications in this area, who can handle complex technical equipment; someone with advanced knowledge and competences, even in such complex areas as digital economy.
The professional education system must be flexible, with various forms and terms of training. I do not mean only teaching students who have just finished school, but also the retraining of experienced specialists, because learning today has to be a constant, life-time process for everyone.
Colleagues, I would like to single out for attention the issues I consider the most important.
First, as we modernise the vocational education system, we must take into account the regional development strategy and investment projects to be implemented in the regions and in Russia as a whole.
We certainly need to forecast the personnel needs of public services, leading industries and enterprises. They must determine the requirements for vocational education institutions, for the content and results of their work. Such cooperation will strengthen the human resources of each Russian region, and create reliable employment guarantees for graduates.
Some regions are already applying effective management mechanisms for solving these problems. I would like to discuss this with you today and consider how best practices could be spread across the country.
Second. Vocational training should rely on the most advanced teaching and production facilities. I would suggest setting up unique centres for collective use, the way they do in scientific research, where the best equipment is concentrated at one site and provided to anyone interested in achieving strong results in their work.
Therefore, advanced-level vocational training centres should be established across the country as soon as possible. These centres will offer both student training and teacher retraining. Others will be able to attend professional development courses here, acquire additional skills or a different specialisation; schoolchildren will visit for career guidance.
Third. The most important issue is an unbiased, independent, and transparent assessment of competencies. The main thing here is that graduates of technical colleges and schools show their skills and proficiencies in practice. Some of the regions have experience in conducting a demonstration exam. Let us discuss this. I know that our colleagues here could tell us how this work is proceeding.
And, finally, there is one more point I would like to make. We must get rid of this stereotype: you leave school, you get an occupation, and that is it. This is absolutely not enough in the modern world, in the modern economy – we are perfectly aware of this. This is what we need to do. Technical colleges and vocational schools should not only provide modern vocational training, but also give students a strong versatile education, including in the sciences and liberal arts, computer programming and foreign languages. It should certainly include the so-called soft skills – the ability to work in a team, to use creative out-of-the-box thinking in problem-solving. Young people, and actually people of all ages, should be encouraged to engage in ongoing improvement, lifelong learning, moving forward in the professional sense of the word.
Let us get down to work.