Russia Suffers Drain of Brains
A brain drain from Russia has been funneling its brightest minds to the West, while the nation’s embattled higher education system struggles to find its place in the post-Soviet world. _NYTRussia's educational system has been losing ground for decades. Consequently, Russia's brain-drain is occurring at earlier and earlier ages and stages of the educational process.
Not only are the best Russian science and technology graduates being lured overseas, sometimes the recruiting takes place even before graduation.
And those students who stay behind in Russia are studying more superfluous subjects, rather than the much needed scientific and technological areas of concentration.
Comfortably settled under the gilt ceiling and surrounded by statues of tsarist-era heroes, the participants of the Strong Russia 2012 summit were in an amicable state of mind, at least until the deputy economics minister of the Kaliningrad region stood up.Capital flight from Russia continues, although at a lower level since the price of oil has dropped.
Mikhail Gorodkov spoke about an issue that few in the room could ignore: the lack of specialists needed to support Russia's development.
"With the excess of economists and lawyers that we have right now, there will simply be nobody left in 10 years to add to gross production [in Russia]," Gorodkov said.
The issue, although not a novelty to the summit participants, is a sore one. While authorities are soliciting more local and foreign investment by positioning Russia as a technological leader, the quality of the country's working staff has steadily declined.
Eighty-six percent of companies in Russia experience a deficit of qualified personnel, according to a study by Antal Russia. The June 2012 poll was based on information gathered from 200 companies.
Technical specialists, qualified retail workers, engineers and IT staff are the hardest to find. This shortage of qualified workers is expected to worsen in 10 to 15 years as Russia's demographics show fewer people of working age.
Part of the problem is the current fashion among youth to train to be economists, lawyers and managers, said Viktor Sadovnichy, rector at Moscow State University.
There is such a surplus of these professions on the market now that the newly graduated professionals are having trouble finding jobs or are forced to settle for jobs that pay 10,000 to 12,000 rubles ($370), Sadovnichy said.
The results of the Unified State Exam are a good indication of the professions that graduates are choosing to study. The number of students who pass the physics exam, which is necessary to go on to study engineering, is currently only 2 percent of the number that the technology sector needs to function, Sadovnichy said._Moscow Times
Should the price of oil remain for long below break-even for the Russian government budget ($120 - $150 per barrel), Russia's problems will have just begun.
Vladimir Putin has big plans for Russia, but he will need to find a way to bring in greater profits to the one-trick-pony energy state. The global price of natural gas is likely to drop lower -- making it difficult for Gazprom to support unofficial state projects. And Putin needs for the price of oil (Brent) to exceed $120 a barrel in order to pay off cronies and to finance all the new weapons systems he wants to build.
Putin's best hope for the future is if US President Obama is re-elected, prolonging the extreme dysfunction and weakening of his greatest enemy nation. Because it is only a matter of time before Russia will have to confront China militarily. And when that happens, Putin does not want the US to be in any condition to take advantage.