Rector of St Petersburg University at the Labour Forum: ‘In public universities, resources created through state funding is public property’

On 17 March 2022, the Expoforum Convention and Exhibition Centre hosted a plenary session of the 6th St Petersburg International Labour Forum.

In his welcoming address to the Forum participants, the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin noted that the event, which traditionally brings to St Petersburg, called the Northern Capital of Russia, leading scholars, and representatives of the government agencies, business and the expert community, is rightly considered an authoritative platform for discussing the fundamentals of the modern labour market and human capital development.

It is important that the Forum should focus on such significant issues as: upgrading of the professional training system; increasing labour productivity; accelerating the adoption of digital technologies and implementation of research results; regulating labour migration; and supporting employment. I would like to emphasise that finding solutions to these large-scale, time-sensitive tasks, especially taking into account the external challenges, is, without exaggeration, our highest priority today. This is crucial for strengthening the economic potential of the regions and the country as a whole, developing the social sphere and improving the quality of life of people.

Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation

‘We learned to work under sanctions. The safety margin of the Russian economy not only made it possible to survive but to exceed the pre-pandemic level in many respects. Last year, the index of industrial production in St Petersburg was 107.5%, while the wholesale trade turnover and the volume of transport services achieved a more than 50% increase. In 2021, tax revenue generated in St Petersburg rose by 26%. This economic growth is reflected in the development of the labour market,’ said Alexander Beglov.

According to Mr Beglov, one of the major tasks today is to preserve employment in the city. This issue was high on the agenda of operational headquarters established at the federal and regional levels. To address this issue, the Centre for Personnel Mobility was created in the Northern Capital.

In the event of layoffs, people will be able to find jobs at other companies. For this, professional training and re-training programmes and temporary employment schemes will be expanded. Other support measures will be taken at the request of businesses willing to take on new employees.

Alexander Beglov, Governor of St Petersburg

Alexander Beglov supported the proposal made during the plenary session — to resume professional skills competitions held in colleges of St Petersburg in order to improve the quality of vocational training. In addition, he underlined the importance of vocational guidance in schools.

In his address to the Forum, Rector of St Petersburg University Nikolay Kropachev emphasised that in order to prepare young professionals for a successful career in today’s competitive labour market, it is of paramount importance for their future employers to participate in education. Currently, over 1,600 cooperation agreements and practical training agreements with Russian and overseas partners are implemented at St Petersburg University. In addition, the University offers over 2,000 non-degree programmes specifically designed for those who are interested in improving their professional competences.

St Petersburg University ranks first among European universities in the number of online courses hosted on the Coursera platform. It is also among TOP-5 universities partners of Coursera worldwide. Unfortunately, the restrictions imposed by Coursera disrupted the education of many students. In response, St Petersburg University transferred its online courses that were previously hosted on Coursera onto its own educational platform and onto the Russian Open Education platform. Our international audience is about a million users enrolled in our online courses from overseas. They all will have free access to their respective courses on the Russian Open Education platform.

Nikolay Kropachev, Rector of St Petersburg University

During his address, Nikolay Kropachev announced a new online course of St Petersburg University on the recent history of Ukraine. This course is also available to users for free. Professor Kropachev underlined that everything that was created through state funding, be it information products or a university clinic, must be public property. He noted that debate on the efficient organisation of access to public properties should become one of the major topics of the Labour Forum 2022.

According to the Secretary-General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Zhang Ming, the issues on the Forum agenda are of particular relevance today — in a situation exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the drastic changes in international politics.

‘To date, the COVID-19 pandemic has swept across every country in the world and is still gripping the globe, forcing humanity into a radically new reality of an unprecedented public health crisis, resulted in substantial human and material losses. It also created negative ripple effects on the socio-economic conditions of many countries. Against this backdrop, the SCO countries are following the path of cooperation and mutual assistance. They joined efforts to address the global challenges together. Countries such as Russia and China are actively engaged in delivering humanitarian aid and strengthening cooperation in epidemic prevention and control,’ said Mr Zhang Ming.

The SCO Secretary-General noted that we have become both witnesses and participants in profound changes in international politics. Recent events have affected the entire architecture of multilateral political, diplomatic and socio-economic relations, and have had major implications for many families and individuals.

‘Indeed, they have adversely affected employment of the population, diminishing opportunities for economic activities and employability of young people, pensioners, the disabled and other vulnerable segments of society. The world community is faced with new social challenges, which will certainly be included in the SCO agenda. I am certain that thematic discussions, the exchange of experience and best practices, and the resolutions of the Forum will be implemented by many agencies and organisations, including the SCO,’ Zhang Ming concluded.

The 6th St Petersburg International Labour Forum was held from 16 to 18 March in a mixed format. The in-person part of the Labour Forum was organised at three venues: the Tauride Palace, St Petersburg University, and the Expoforum Exhibition and Convention Centre. The Forum is organised by: the Government of St Petersburg; St Petersburg University; the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of States Members of the Commonwealth of Independent States with the support of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Russia; and the Federal Service for Labour and Employment.

Also, at the plenary session, the Forum participants received welcome addresses from: Mikhail Mishustin, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation; Tatyana Golikova, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation; and Valentina Matvienko, Chairwoman of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation. The Forum was also addressed by the Chairman of the Legislative Assembly of St Petersburg Aleksandr Belskii and other key speakers.