President Vladimir Putin (opening remarks): Good afternoon, colleagues,
As Sergei Mikhailovich [Mironov] said, we are here today to discuss legislative work to ensure the training and education of specialists to meet the needs of Russia’s economy and civil service.
This area of your lawmaking work has become much more important of late, and it should be said that much has been accomplished.
The legal foundation for innovative higher education establishments, vocational colleges and other institutions to take part in the Education National Project has been laid rapidly. More effective legal solutions have required the modernisation of the education system itself. Full compulsory general secondary education has been fixed in law.
But the priority task of training specialists is linked to the labour market’s demands. The Russian economy continues to grow steadily and it is in greatest need today of engineers and technical specialists and trained workers.
The shortage of such people is being felt most of all in the construction industry, the infrastructure sector and a few other sectors. Demand for qualified workers is also growing in the machine-building and metals sectors, in agriculture and in the housing and utilities sector.
The economy is placing ever greater demands on the quality of training. Employers have been saying that the graduates of vocational colleges and schools fall a long way short of modern professional standards. It is not surprising therefore that when employers hire, they look above all not at a candidate’s education, diplomas and knowledge acquired, but at the length of work experience, at practical experience.
This makes it hard for young graduates to find a job and creates a situation in which there is a labour shortage and yet young people face difficulties in finding employment.
We have already discussed these problems in the Council for the Implementation of the National Projects and at meetings with members of the business community, and, as you know, legislative proposals have been made for their solution.
The regional legislative assemblies must now become actively involved in this work. I urge you to ensure this is the case. It is the regions, after all, who, since 2003, have been responsible for the provision of primary and secondary education (with a few exceptions of which you are aware). In this context, I would like to draw your attention to a few moments I think are of key importance.
First, the system for training specialists, the structure of the directions, jobs and professions it covers, should meet the demands of today’s labour market.
At the same time, the entire vocational and professional education system should become more varied, flexible and mobile. It should be ready to adapt rapidly to changing demand on the market and in the economy.
A transition to financing based on actual student numbers will help this process. This is not the only way to improve the situation, but it is quite an effective method for ensuring change for the better in this area. The different educational establishments will have to compete to attract students, and this means they will try to raise the quality of the educational services they provide. This is why the regional vocational education programmes should be based on these economic principles.
Second, we need to make individual professions and skills more attractive and make training in professions for which there is a shortage in your regions more accessible. One option here could be to provide bigger student allowances and make other forms of payment from the regional budgets.
Third, professional education standards at all levels, primary, secondary and tertiary, need to be adapted to production demands, and educational establishments should have more independence in developing their education programmes. I know that a lot of administrative organisations are reluctant to hand over any of their powers to the educational establishments. I ask you to give this matter your attention because we need to get things moving in the right direction.
Of course, we also need to raise the quality demands for management training. As you know, world-class business schools have been opening in Russia and have already been founded in Moscow and St Petersburg. But we need to train top class managers not only in these cities. We need to develop this kind of training in the regions too.
We should draw on leading international experience and education technology in all areas of training, and we should not be afraid to invite leading foreign teachers and specialists to work in our educational establishments. Of course, this all requires money. These are important tasks and we should not spare the funds needed, but the money has to bring results. What we need are top-class specialists, and if we pay them, we have to know what we are getting.
Business plays a big role today in training specialists. Business is the main client, and the future development of our vocational and professional education system will depend to a large extent on the effectiveness of the private-public partnership. It is the regional legislative assemblies’ responsibility to help form the legal basis for this partnership.
Legislative provisions at regional level are needed in particular in order to involve employers in forecasting and monitoring labour market needs.
We also need to strengthen the legal provisions for employers to take part in the work of boards of trustees, and also for the development of ratings and other methods of independently evaluating educational establishments. This is a very important area of work. Independent evaluation of the quality of education establishments are providing is something we need.
It is also important to come up with effective legal incentives for attracting private investment into developing the material and technical resource base of educational establishments. As you know, as part of the Education National Project that I have already mentioned today, innovative vocational schools and colleges have received state support. If we want to modernise the entire vocational and professional education system we need to equip other educational establishments too, all those who are training people in skills for which there is demand in the regions.
We should be encouraging businesses and employers to become more involved in organising workplace internships and training. It could be worth recalling the old methods of training specialists directly in the workplace, including at the state’s expense. In this case, a business itself could act as client, placing the order for the specialists it needs. This method is already being used elsewhere in the world and some countries train young people in precisely this fashion.
I would like to mention one other important subject in conclusion. It is not only the economy that is in urgent need of qualified specialists but also the state bodies and agencies and the municipalities, all the more so following the reforms that have been carried out at municipal level.
Some steps have already been taken in this direction. Starting in 2008, training for federal civil servants will take place on a public procurement basis.
In the long term, we should aim to develop an integral and continuously functioning system for training specialists for the civil service and the municipalities. I hope that this Council will pay close attention to forming the legal foundation for training modern civil servants for our country.
This was all I wanted to say for now. It is with great interest and attention that I will listen to what you have to say, and I will say a few more words at the end. Thank you very much for your attention.
President Vladimir Putin (concluding remarks) :
The seamless coexistence of elements in a chain is one of the main reasons for success in the area that we are looking at today. Of course we need to think about how to facilitate this, including the work of the legislative bodies in the regions. There are sub-committees dealing with education, agriculture and the economy. But I am sure that even when you are discussing the problems of development in individual industries, you are unlikely to consider meeting with colleagues to talk about how everything functions interdependently. And in order to achieve such a state in life, in education, we ourselves need, I mean those of us in the executive branch and in the legislature, to find a means of cooperation, to find a form of effective communication with colleagues. And I would ask you to give this your full attention.
But, in conclusion, I would like to talk about something else. Just now one of our colleagues was talking about importing food. There is not only the problem of importing food. As soon as real incomes start to rise, imports flood the country and overwhelm our own production. And, of course, in the sphere of agriculture this is particularly noticeable and significant. In major industrial centers, such as Moscow, the amount of imported food in the domestic market is simply shameful, a real disgrace.
But this is not the only area where imports are so vividly assert themselves. Here we have to begin at the most basic level with staff, with people. Everything depends on them. You know that in our largest, leading companies – companies that today are truly global companies and, first and foremost, those dealing with commodity trading – there is a system of management, a small number of senior management positions that are mostly staffed by foreign experts. And as long as we don't start a policy of import substitution (not only in major companies but in all other sectors of the economy and in administration as well), we are going to have to keep importing from other countries. Because, as we used to say, it is people that decide everything. And we have already been saying this for 10 years now, from the middle and maybe even from the beginning of the 1990s. This is the area in which the least has been done since that time. Please pay your most serious attention to this. Thank you.