Researchers from St Petersburg University have completed a major labour market research project. On the basis of the HeadHunter database, specialists have identified the regions with staff shortages or surpluses. The monitoring of social networks has revealed what Russians think about their jobs and career prospects. 

In order to analyse the current situation on the labour market, an interdisciplinary group of scientists from St Petersburg University, which included specialists in sociology, programming and philology, conducted a study on 'Sociological analysis of the social attitudes and dispositions of the population of the Russian Federation in relation to new forms of employment: subjective assessments and the objective situation'.

One of the phases of the project involved a study of specialised internet sites, including HeadHunter. This database, which has become a source of up-to-date information on employment, has almost 39 million resumes and about 600 thousand vacancies from all over Russia.

The research showed that the number of resumes on the website is 1.1 times higher than the number of vacancies, with uneven demand for jobs in the regions. For example, the largest personnel shortage is observed in the region of Nizhny Novgorod: 0.6 resumes per vacancy. There are 0.3 resumes per vacancy in Ryazan region, and 0.35 in Kirov region. A shortage of jobs is reported in St Petersburg: 1.86 resumes per vacancy. The largest personnel excess was registered in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug: 5.92 resumes per vacancy.

Another criterion that interested researchers was the preferences of employees in terms of salary and professional sphere. It turned out that most job seekers want to earn 30 to 50 thousand roubles. Potential employees are least willing to work in the areas of in-house consulting (0.16 resumes per vacancy), medicine (0.28) and to do manual work (0.2). Most resumes are in professional fields such as arts and media (2.08 for a vacancy) and senior management (2.8).

In this study, we have relied not only on the statistics from government agencies, but also studied how people express their attitudes towards work and professions on social networks. This data makes it possible to understand the way employees will act in the labour market and what they are potentially prepared for.

Anna Maltseva, Research supervisor, Associate Professor at St Petersburg University

Besides monitoring the HeadHunter database of resumes and vacancies, the researchers also analysed user reports on self-employment and entrepreneurship in the social network VKontakte. The goal of this phase of the project was to find out how self-employed Russians feel about various phenomena in the labour market, including freelancing and changes in retirement policies and legislation.

Thus, users of social networks believe that freelancing allows 'skilled' people in the regions to earn money and is associated with the words 'development', 'business' and 'doing the job they love'. At the same time, freelancing is opposed to the concept of 'work' and closely linked with the idea of independence. However, it is also associated with uncertainty – 'something, somewhere, somehow'. Employees regard self-employment as a way of increasing their income and planning their own work schedules. The concept of 'pension' is missing in freelance and self-employment reports, while the word 'reform' and the phrase 'changes in legislation' are found in a neutral and positive context.

Today, the content of the profession is becoming obsolete, and potential employees are more attracted to the opportunity to plan their own workday, change activities and other related benefits.

Anna Maltseva, Research supervisor, Associate Professor at St Petersburg University

'The attitude “profession is a lifetime project” is replaced by “work is an action and a display”. It is particularly characteristic of young audiences. The labour market is becoming more flexible and amenable to self-fulfilment, but there are also new challenges. For example, the level of informal and shadow employment is increasing, and legal problems are arising,' says Anna Maltseva, the research supervisor and Associate Professor at St Petersburg University.

The research was commissioned by the Russian Research Institute of Labour of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of the Russian Federation. The results of the research were included in the national report – the Development of New Forms of Employment and Entrepreneurship in the Russian Federation and presented at the session of the research network of labour institutes of BRICS countries in 2018. Also, researchers from St Petersburg University created a ‘Database for assessing the social attitudes and dispositions of the population of the Russian Federation to new forms of employment’, which is registered as an intellectual property with the Russian Federal Service for Intellectual Property.