What professional standards do we need?

15:07 27.07.2012 • Armen Oganesyan , Editor-in-Chief, International Affairs

The Ministry of labor and Social Development of the Russian Federation (MLSD) have created 800 new professional standards for industrial workers. Ideally, these are the requirements that the Russian labor market today demands from its participants. The old standards are to be sure, out of date, some of them by a quarter of a century and more. The ultimate goal is: "professional standards which should reduce the gap between graduates knowledge and employers' requirements, as this will be the base for the development of standards in education."

Is it not true, it looks a bit like the Unified State Exam (USE), but on a huge scale, so to speak? Professional standards will be enshrined in law and applied to all levels of education, from secondary to higher education. Needless to say, in recent years, the education sphere has received a special administrative enthusiasm and energetic transformations. I think the Ministry of Health should not miss this rare opportunity to study the phenomenon of the survival of our students and teachers under constant stress.

The issue of cost in the development of the standards is 400 million rubles, which is nothing for a country such as Russia. It would seem that all is business-like, very pragmatic and, most importantly, "systematic." This is a word we especially love. It imparts a feeling of consciousness in our chaotic times and, therefore, one of hope: in our stormy seas some people are beacons and pilots. True, it is important that the beacons are placed in the right places, and the pilots know the shallows.

They say, that for the last five years, employers have insisted on such measures. This is a sign of their high regard for the future fate of domestic industry. In fact, a good turner and miller are hard to find these days. But there is always somebody naive, who asks, but where did they all go, my dear?

Is this not why the alarm bell was sounded last year for the vocational school, and then the campaign from the modern "mass" employers who no longer need so many skilled workers was slowly rolled up.

If we formulate the problem on the socio-economic plane, we must ask ourselves the question: can the Russian economy today, based on the current level of its development, develop healthy professional standards? As philosopher Alexander Tsypko quipped, based on the present state of the domestic auto industry, you need to apply the standards of professional screwdriver operators.

But let us turn to our industrial flagships, which feed and water us, the fuel and energy sectors (I say this, without irony). A few days ago the head of the Union of Oil Producers (i.e. employers) Yuri Shafranik gave a remarkable interview.

He pointed to the experience of Norway, which over several years has created a modern oil and gas service industry from scratch: "The Norwegian legislature recorded a package of measures to stimulate domestic production of equipment. Today, Norway has largely compensated for the loss of income from reduced production in the North Sea by the supply of oil and gas equipment to virtually all regions of the world, including Russia. "

Shafranik recalls that for us, the industry was relatively highly developed in the USSR, "but is now in decline, although the base is still better than what it was in Norway in the early 1970s."

Just imagine a complex equation with many unknowns to be solved to develop professional requirements from workers and especially from the education system in particular sectors of industry. What would the experts say?

Rely on an outdated base? Copy the Norwegian-style? Or base the project on future development, which may not work today but can become a reality in 10 to 15 years time? If taught to world standards, graduates that can’t find employment based on the high level of their qualifications in their own country, will be able to find it only abroad, for instance in Norway.

Of course, it is the reasonable position of the Ministry of Labor that "professional standards are a living system, and changes in the standards will be applied to changes in industry." All right, one cannot put the cart before the horse, especially if it has no wheels. It is advisable not to have a "living system of professional standards" but a living economy that in a completely natural way will formulate standards and demand worker skills.

Moreover, in many areas of competitive production we will have to build from the ground up, that is, from a base of zero, if of course, we want to develop dynamically in terms of membership in the WTO.

It should be borne in mind; there is a completely new trend in the interaction of science, education and industry in our time. Nanotechnology, as with a number of other high-tech industries, was born and raised not on the factory floor, but in research laboratories and universities. Technological requirements and standards come from there to industry, and not vice versa, as it was in the era of industrialization.

The famous reprise of Arkady Raikin, "forget induction - chase production" is not relevant, even in a humorous way. But I promise you, we would have enough home-grown "pragmatists," to try to implement this principle in practice.

So, can we live with the old professional standards? Of course, the new standards are needed in a number of sectors and their respective institutions on the profile of vocational training, to which they must be addressed and exclusively targeted.

Sometimes an outside perspective is useful. Economist magazine recently devoted an article on the prospects of the Russian economy under the conditions of accession to the WTO. "In Russia, there are plenty of industries that are able to compete on a global level. There is potential strength represented by the aviation industry, in the production of helicopters, turbines, motors, engineering, pumps and compressors, and, of course, military equipment."

The list is impressive, but, of course, incomplete. "A fresh influx of investment and good management... can dramatically increase the productivity of Russian industry."

But in the end it can only increase the flow of fresh professional workers in the "living economy" of the country, if it is focused on high end professional and competitive standards, and only on them. Otherwise, we will be supplying labor to other countries, or in place of productivity we will get unemployment.<!--EndFragment-->


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