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Specialists for Arctic should be educated in dialogue with business, experts say

April 10, 2017, 8:44 UTC+3 NOVOSIBIRSK
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NOVOSIBIRSK, April 10. /TASS/. Authorities of Russia’s northern regions say the problem of graduates, who prefer not to stay in the Arctic, cannot be solved by introducing quotas - it could be much more effective if educational institutions received state orders from companies for certain specialists. Representatives of Russian universities say they have approached the problem by offering educational programs aimed at two simultaneous specialties, one of which would be for the Arctic, though they say universities require time to include this approach into the educational process.

Earlier, Governor of the Arkhangelsk region Igor Orlov said about the evident outflow of labor resources from all the Arctic regions, which consequently experience a lack of qualified specialists. Deputy Speaker of the State Duma (lower house of parliament) Olga Epifantseva said during the recent Arctic: Territory of Dialogue Forum - 52% of students in the Arkhangelsk and Murmansk regions do not plan staying in the northern regions after they graduate from universities. The forum participants discussed actively problem of qualified specialists’ outflow from the northern regions.

The governor said it would be helpful if universities had quotas on training students from Arctic regions and if they have more dual-specialties programs, where one can be useful for working in the Arctic. "One of the solutions is if students receive qualifications and competences, which educate a more universal specialist working in distanced and low-populated areas," the governor said, offering as examples additional competences for doctors and engineers.

The Arkhangelsk region already has experience in offering two-specialties training and develops this direction, the governor continued. "We, of course, are ready for the dual-specialties training at the Northern Arctic Federal University (NAFU)," he told TASS. "Already now, we offer specialties at the floating university, and we have a stationary facility at the Solovki Islands, which is focused both on history, and on studies of flora and fauna. We hope conditions would appear at Novaya Zemlya and in some other districts in the region, and most likely in cooperation with our partners from other regions."

Currently, about 61,000 people in Russia receive education in specialties, which are of demand in the Arctic, and about every third student studies in the Arkhangelsk region, the official said. The share of graduates, who work in the Arctic, makes 71%.

State order for "Arctic" education

Russia’s presidential envoy to the North-Western Federal District Nikolai Tsukanov says it is necessary to have an order for Arctic specialties - it should be formed by both regional authorities and investors.

"Orders for specialists in gas, oil production, transport, logistics should first of all come from companies, which will be extracting there and investing in the infrastructure," he said. "At the same time, we should mind the 1.5 million people living here. And there, of course, we need doctors, teachers, sports coaches - here comes the role for municipal and regional authorities to form this task."

The training programs are now not only at the Arctic universities, but also at universities in other regions, he added.

The presidential envoy to the Siberian Federal District Sergei Menyailo says for Arctic of importance are not only applied but also scientific specialties.

"At the new level of the Arctic development, of course, the base should be the high-technology sciences, but without the educational system these sciences are doomed: training of high-class specialists is essential," he said in an interview with TASS. "However, we have to admit - as yet the education is separate from the sciences, and sciences - from industries: these basic ties are not working, and as soon as we can restore them we shall see positive economic and social effects."

Dialogue with employers

The Murmansk region cooperates closely with major companies, working there (EuroChem, FosAgro, Rosneft, Norilsk Nickel), in training specialists.

"50% of secondary school graduates after 9 years of education and 30% of those who graduate after 11 years choose further training at colleges - their education is focused clearly on the labor market’s demand and they know where they would be working afterwards," the region’s Governor Marina Kovtun told the Arctic Forum. "We follow requests from certain employers and we work closely with the companies in the region."

"To companies, which claim a shortage of specialists, we are saying: place your orders with us and we shall educate required specialists for you," she said. "And you then will give extra training to them (in practice - TASS)."

The Norilsk Nickel Company’s Senior Vice-President Larisa Zelkova says direct cooperation with employers is more effective than introducing quotas.

"Quotas seem to me rather outdated, and it is more effective to be in direct dialogue with employing companies in the regions," she said. "NorNickel and other companies have successful experience in cooperation with educational institutions on this aspect, and it is not necessary to return to the outdated instrument."

Dual specialties - an alternative to master degrees

Representatives of the Arctic universities do not call problematic training of students in two specialties at a time - this approach would not affect the quality, they say.

"NAFU has programs in such training, where a student receives two neighboring specialties - for example in pedagogic: history-society studies, or biology-chemistry, biology-ecology. The educational process for such programs lasts one year longer - five years. The quality does not suffer, as we choose between neighboring specialties and programs feature common subjects," Director of the NAFU Arctic Centre for Strategic Research Konstantin Zaikov said.

"The very work on programs for "parallel" specialties for the Arctic, the license formalities may take not more than two years, but then mind that first graduates will finish education in another 4-5 years," Head of the Murmansk Arctic State University Andrei Sergeyev told TASS. "Working and managerial specialties may be taught simultaneously: this is applicable both to the bachelor and the master programs."

The universities, which train specialists for the Arctic, introduce master or trainee programs. The North-Eastern Federal University begins a master program "Human physiology in high latitudes." Students within two years study a complex of natural sciences, which covers work of the entire human body. Graduates may be both researchers and engineers, they may work at laboratories or be doing research in biotechnologies.

"Natural conditions of the Arctic zone are more complicated than in Central European Russia, thus come problems with human’s adaptation," Professor of the NEFU Medical Institute Natalia Borisova said. "Here comes the demand for specialists who can research changes of body’s reactions."

The St. Petersburg State University opens a new master program for the Fobos ocean scientists, which has an Arctic component. The program will be used to educate future researchers of the ocean and specialists in neighboring applied scientific directions. The program includes hydro-meteorology, hydrology of land, geo-morphology, and a special focus on polar ocean studies. The University has more than 200 scientific projects, related to the Arctic research.

The Novosibirsk State University is working on new educational programs to train specialists for work in extreme conditions - in partnership with the Academy of Sciences’ Institute for oil and gas geology and geophysics. Under those programs, students will have trainee courses at the Ostrov Samoilovsky polar station, which works year round in the mouth of the Lena River.

Educational programs in engineering at the Tyumen Industrial University have an aspect related to studies of the permafrost. "Programs of the kind attract most applicants, and the competition for those programs is stably high," the University’s head of the educational department, Ludmila Gabysheva, told TASS. "More than 90% of the graduates use the received skills at work in the Arctic zone.".

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