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Experts explain why specialists are reluctant to move to Far East for work

December 25, 2017, 19:54 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Despite all the existing problems, the labor resources’ mobility program remains a key aspect in implementation of the Far East’s demographic policy concept

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MOSCOW, December 25. /TASS/. Housing problems, insufficient moving allowances, complicated procedures to apply for financial support - those are reasons, which hinder labor mobility in the Far Eastern regions, experts, officials and participants in the state program to attract specialists to work in the Far East, told TASS.

The state program on raising mobility of labor resources is targeted at attracting specialists from across the country to work in the Far East, as well as at improvement of the demographic situation in the region. Under the program, the state pays to those ready to move subsidies of about 300,000 rubles ($5,190), which also should cover expenses on settling and on housing rent.

On December 14, the program was presented at a job fair, organized during the Days of Far East in Moscow. The region’s biggest employers offered about 45,000 vacancies in the economy’s nine key sectors.

What problems employers are facing

For employers, state support does not cover expenses to have a specialist move to the Far East, the Ministry for the Far East’s Development said.

"The current state of affairs is that most moving expenses are undertaken by employees or employers. The program on labor mobility, unfortunately, is not working fully, and the number of people moving now to the Far East under this program cannot satisfy us <…> The state support, which employers may receive, is not sufficient to cover expenses on moving and on buying housing. An employer does not have an option to use this financial support to compensate for some of the expenses related to moving of the employee’s family," Deputy Minister Sergei Kachayev told TASS.

According to him, the cost of having a qualified specialist move to the northern and far-away territories like Chukotka, Sakhalin or Magadan quite often cannot be compared with the high expenses, which employers in the Far East have to pay.

"Employers are interested to participate in the program, but the binding condition, under which they are to implement investment projects, limit their applications to compete for receiving the financial support. Another factor, which hinders the program, is the complicated mechanism offered by the federal law, which among others regulates the financial support for employers," the Kamchatka Region’s recruiting agency told TASS.

Under the program, Kamchatka has welcomed about 100 specialists - including geologists, energy engineers, veterinary experts and managers. They are working at the Kamchatka advance-development territory and in the free port Vladivostok, at the Ametistovy mining plant, at an oil storage facility in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, at a pig breeding complex in the Lesnoy village, Elizovsky district.

Housing problem

Among the problems related to labor migration, experts name the housing issue and the problem, where regions cannot re-distribute among themselves specialists from outside.

"We can see that the regions, which are on the list of territories for priority attraction of labor from outside, cannot re-distribute those labor resources among themselves. For example, in the Maritime Region the Zvezda shipbuilding plant needs workers, who are available in the Arkhangelsk, Murmansk, Amur or Khabarovsk regions, but Rosneft, a participant in the labor mobility program, cannot employ those workers as they are located in the regions, which are on the list of regions, experiencing the human resources’ shortage," Kachayev said.

At the same time, he continued, the aerospace sector specialists in Komsomolsk-on-Amur (Khabarovsk Region) or Arsenyev (Maritime) could go to work at the aircraft building plants in the Ulyanovsk Region, but, again, they cannot do so for those very reasons.

The housing issue is another problem.

"The mobile employment programs should have clear answers to the question: where the specialists will live and who is responsible for the housing. Ideally, a specialist should be accommodated at temporary housing, like in the case with the military - a person receives a new place for the service and has a clear picture of where he will live. Thus, when speaking about massive attracting of specialists to the Far East, there should be a working system of temporary housing. Hostels, flats for rent, flats with optional privatization, land for building a house, including the program to receive for free a hectare of land in the Far East - those aspects need close attention," deputy head of the Far Eastern University’s Expert-Analysis Center Dmitry Shelest says.

The Maritime Region for this purpose is building a complex with flats for rent, where future employees of the Zvezda plant could live. Sakhalin offers housing for rent, and those who will work at the Vostochny cosmodrome in the Amur Region will live in the Tsiolkovsky town nearby.

Inner mobility in Yakutia

Yakutia is facing another problem: the region has enough labor, but experiences a problem with inner labor mobility - people moving from agricultural to the industrial districts. Thus, back in 2014, when the federal program only began, the region asked to postpone the program for it to 2019.

"The situation with labor force in Yakutia is different from Russia’s other regions <…> While the Khabarovsk Region has a shortage of labor resources, we have enough <…> From 2019, we shall join the project and will be working mostly with highly qualified resources," Yakutia’s deputy head of the government Aleksei Dyachkovsky said.

From 2018, the region will begin a pilot project on inner labor mobility, where agricultural specialists would be working at industries on the rotation basis. The project, dubbed "Rotation" offers protection and adaptation measures, and the forecast is that in 2018 about 1,000 specialists from agricultural districts will work at industrial enterprises.

"We shall compensate for the travel expenses. A special tutor will help with social settlement, will consider aspects of working conditions and climate in the team," Dyachkovsky said.

The region’s 21 companies have confirmed they will welcome rotation workers, he added.

The official continued by saying future rotation workers will have to undergo a major professional re-training: special courses with terms between two and four months will be organized for Yakutia’s 3,000 residents. The regional employment committee told TASS students at those courses would be paid average wages.

Working for future

Despite all the existing problems, the labor resources’ mobility program remains a key aspect in implementation of the Far East’s demographic policy concept, experts say. Under the program, to 2025 the Far East’s population, which according to the Ministry was about 6.2 million in early 2017, should grow to 6.5 million. For that more than 250,000 should move to the Far East.

"We should rather say that it (the program - TASS) is mostly important for future. With the labor resources’ deficit and the low competition in the labor market among qualified and highly qualified specialists, the program is necessary," Shelest said.

The inflow of specialists to the Far East is growing every year. "Under the labor mobility program, the Far Eastern regions attracted in 2015 - 68 specialists, in 2016 - 265, and in 2017 - should be about 544," Kachayev said. "The leading regions here are the Khabarovsk and Amur Regions."

The Zvezda plant, which is the country’s biggest shipbuilding complex and the Maritime Region’s leading employer, plans to employ in 2018 as many as 2,500 people. As of now, the staff’s majority comes from the Maritime Region, as well as people from all over the country: from neighboring Khabarovsk and Yakutia, from Krasnodar and Irkutsk, Sakhalin, Kaliningrad, Crimea, Novosibirsk, Moscow and St. Petersburg. They come here attracted by the wages, which suit the Far East’s high prices, as well as by good housing conditions. The staff may rent flats or rooms, and in future the specialists would participate in a special mortgage program to buy flats in newly-built houses.

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