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Professional Development Mostly Limited to Intellectuals

In Russia, access to professional development is determined by one's occupation, as well as job position, company size, and characteristics of the local labour market. Skilled personnel in non-physical jobs and public sector employees are more likely to pursue professional development, while low-skilled employees in private firms are effectively excluded from any such opportunity, according to Vasiliy Anikin, Assistant Professor of the HSE Department of Applied Economics.

In advanced post-industrial countries, professional development is an integral part of any occupation. People engage in lifelong learning, gaining new knowledge and skills to support career advancement and higher pay – at least according to the theory of post-industrial society summarizing the trends observed in developed countries over the past 30 to 40 years.

In contrast, 'prolonged transition' countries such as Russia, which struggle with a transition from late-stage industrialization to a post-industrial model of socio-economic development, have yet to integrate professional development in their production processes. However, Anikin found that Russian companies' investment in human capital can respond flexibly to the structure of jobs in the national economy and the pay ranges within occupational groups. He also examined the role of other factors affecting access to professional development in Russia.

Anikin summarized his findings in a paper entitled ‘Professional development as a characteristic in a late-industrial economy: evidence from Russia', which was presented at a joint seminar of HSE's Laboratory for Labour Market Studies (LLMS) and the Centre for Labour Market Studies (CLMS).

He used 2012 data from the Russia Longitudinal Monitoring Survey (RLMS-HSE) to build a multi-level regression model and analyzed data on 7,500 Russians employed in 340 occupations. Anikin also examined the importance of factors such as gender, age, type of settlement, workplace characteristics, possession of skills relevant to a knowledge-based economy – such as computer skills and foreign language proficiency – and a subjective assessment of one's health and occupational qualification.

Professional Status Affects Training Opportunities

Anikin found that access to professional development in Russia depends on the job structure, and for low- to mid-level employee categories (i.e., from unskilled labourers to office workers) the likelihood of continuing training is close to zero.

As senior- and mid-level professionals (and their assistants), the chances of accessing professional development vary widely from nearly zero to 20%. According to Anikin, ‘it is a major structural barrier to modernization, as access to professional development opportunities in advanced post-industrial countries is more universal and generally greater than in Russia’.

Anikin did not find any direct impact of socio-demographic characteristics, such as gender, age and type of settlement, but these characteristics appear to be important in the context of aggregate occupational groups recently emerging in Russia and influencing people's lifetime opportunities and workplace prospects.

Anikin also found that employees who use computers as part of their job and those with a positive outlook on professional development opportunities available to them have higher chances of accessing continuing training.

Using a regression model, Anikin found a hidden positive effect of overtime – i.e., working more than eight hours a day – in that it increases the likelihood of accessing professional development courses, including those paid by the employer. This likelihood is higher in the public sector, which is consistent with findings from earlier studies.

However, wage arrears undermine both employers and employees' investment in human capital, which emphasizes the need for the government and labour unions to address the problem of workplace exploitation increasingly observed across all types of employers, and thus ensure Russia’s effective transition to a post-industrial economy.

 

June 11, 2015