On 20 April 2021, the Russian News Agency TASS hosted an online plenary session of the 5th St Petersburg International Labour Forum. The event was titled ‘Employment recovery. 30th anniversary of the Russian Employment Service’. 

The welcome speech of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin to the Forum participants states: ‘The Forum agenda focuses on the search for consistent approaches aimed at: improving labour efficiency; developing the system of professional training and retraining of specialists; increasing the demand for people with physical disabilities; and regulating labour migration. And, of course, it is necessary to give special priority to the challenges of the effective development of digital technologies and widespread introduction of remote forms of employment. At present, when Russia and the whole world face new global challenges, these tasks are of particular significance.’ 

Nikolay Kropachev, Rector of St Petersburg University, noted in his speech that the pandemic has influenced greatly the world of work and employment, led to large job cuts, and made employers turn to teleworking. At the same time, according to Mr Kropachev, universities as a whole appeared to be well prepared for distance learning.

I am proud that it was St Petersburg University that was the first to provide free access to online courses for students of all Russian universities during the pandemic. Currently, the University ranks third in the world in terms of the total number of online courses on the Coursera international educational platform.

Nikolay Kropachev, Rector of St Petersburg University

‘Additionally, in terms of the number of courses and the number of students, we are ranked first on the Russian Open Education Platform. Our total audience exceeds 2.5 million people throughout the world,’ said the Rector. 

He also noted that measures to combat the pandemic, taken by federal and regional authorities, have had effect. Moreover, the success of Russian doctors and scientists involved in vaccine development, and a large-scale vaccination campaign inspire confidence that Russia will soon be able to cope with the pandemic. This is the reason why Nikolay Kropachev thinks that the task of complete economic recovery can be successfully solved. 

Tatyana Golikova, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, addressed the audience with her welcome speech. She said that over the years of its existence, the Forum has become one of the largest platforms in Russia for discussing such significant issues as the development of human capital, global economic trends, and new forms of labour market regulation. 

In the year of the 30th anniversary of the Russian employment service, attention will be focused on new challenges: the employment recovery and the assurance of our citizens’ revenues.

It is also said in her report that only the joint efforts of representatives of the government, business and the expert community will transform the employment service into an institution for the development of the labour market. High-quality solutions must be worked out. They will boost the economy and expand opportunities for professional fulfilment of citizens. The Forum, as before, will act as a platform for a constructive dialogue between the education system and employers. It will also help develop common approaches to training specialists who will be much in demand and have the prerequisite skills sets.

In his speech, the Governor of St Petersburg Alexander Beglov congratulated all those involved in the field of employment and professional retraining of citizens on the 30th anniversary of the employment service.

The employment service is now playing a special role. Employment recovery and assurance of our citizens’ revenues is not only a topic for professional discussion at the Labour Forum, but also a huge challenge facing society. Since the pandemic and restrictive measures have significantly affected the labour market, the whole world faces this issue.

Alexander Beglov, Governor of St Petersburg

‘It should be noted that the unemployment rate in St Petersburg has always been one of the lowest in Russia. However, 2020 saw its soaring. Workers in trade, hotels, catering, and the service sector were victims. Young people with little experience turned out to be vulnerable. Thanks to your professionalism and the decisions of the St Petersburg government, most of them managed to find employment. Financial assistance was provided to companies that found ways to keep jobs under difficult conditions. But the challenges remain. I am confident that the St Petersburg International Labour Forum will now become the traditional place for the emergence of novel ideas and legislative initiatives,’ said Alexander Beglov.

The 5th St Petersburg International Labour Forum was held for the first time in both Russian capitals in a mixed format from 19 to 23 April 2021. The organisers of the Forum are the government of St Petersburg, St Petersburg University, and the Interparliamentary Assembly of the CIS Member Nations with the support of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection and the Federal Service for Labour and Employment of the Russian Federation.

Dmitrii Cherneiko, the Chairman for the Committee on Labour and Employment of St Petersburg, moderated the meeting. He emphasised that the Forum was being held in a mixed format for the first time.

However, this would not prevent its participants from touching on the most important and pressing issues of the industry: ‘Some people are in St Petersburg, others are very far from us. Nevertheless, we are all discussing one fundamental issue: what is the future of work, and how to restore employment. Many sections are devoted to this. This time the Forum lasts five whole days, which has never happened before. I do hope that during this time all key issues will be discussed. This also includes the 30th anniversary of the employment service, which is now in the stage of system reformatting.’