Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Russian Defense Industries Can’t Find and Attract Enough Skilled Workers, Expert Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 25 – The Russian government has largely overcome the shortage of engineers the military industrial complex experienced five to ten years ago, but it has not yet been able to address the severe shortage of skilled workers needed for construction projects, according to Eduard Bobritsky, head of personnel at Unified Ship-Building Corporation.

            In an interview given to Lenta news agency journalist Ilya Kramnik, says that “problems with personnel are one of the most significant not only for the military-industrial complex but for the entire machine-building sector as a whole,” something many are talking about but not yet addressing effectively (

            He praised Moscow officials for their work in improving the production of engineers, but he said that the central government has not been effective in training the number of skilled workers needed even with the progress that has been made in boosting the productivity of the military-industrial workforce.

            Most of the government’s efforts have been limited to the drafting of professional standards for various categories of workers and to the creation of internship programs for those being trained in engineering disciplines in higher educational institutions, he says; but those steps alone have done little to alleviate shortages in key sectors.

            Earlier, Bobritsky continued, “there were many workers and few engineers; but now the situation is just the reverse.”  There are enough highly educated people, but “there are unfortunately too few workers” because too many young people want to go on to higher education rather than take skilled labor jobs. 

            Another reason for this problem, the personnel specialist says, is the demographic “hole” that Russia finds itself in.  As a result, “the problem of a shortage of worker cadres is felt and will be for the next several years.”  According to Bobritsky, everyone involved knows what needs to be done.

            On the one hand, Russian firms, especially in the defense sector, need to boost productivity through mechanization so that fewer skilled workers will be required.  And on the other, there needs to be a new relationship between the defense firms and training institutions, something that current law makes very difficult.

            By law, Bobritsky says, defense firms are not allowed to support their own training schools. Those remain exclusively within the competence of the education ministry.  But that doesn’t mean that these firms cannot expand their cooperation with schools and institutes training people for the needs of the sector.

            In addition, he calls for popularizing defense construction work by the establishment of a country-wide “Day of the Shipbuilder” and by providing more information via the schools and media about defense work and the social benefits it provides.  But of course, salaries are critical; and they are going up to 2000 to 2500 US dollars a month for skilled personnel.

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