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Meeting regional needs through decentralised policies on vocational education and training

Since 2000 we have been supporting Russia to develop education and training to boost employability, increase access to opportunity and promote social cohesion. Complementing the work of the EU’s External Action Service, we bring together ministries and social partners to develop scalable projects.

In March 2014, the EU suspended the EU-Russia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and the Council extended restrictive measures in response to the annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol to Russia. Cooperation at a technical level continues and education and research have been identified as areas to be developed between the EU and Russia. University cooperation and academic mobility also exist in particular through the Erasmus+ programme.

Political context and priorities

Russia’s economy emerged from recession to recovery in 2017. Deepening macroeconomic stability, firming energy prices, and a recovering global economy contributed to the return to growth. Key priorities to stabilise this are the attraction of private investment and lifting consumer sentiment. The political context is challenging; The eighty-five Russian regions/federal subjects differ in the degree of development and autonomy they enjoy and the decentralisation of vocational education and training is an attempt to cope with the fact that Russian regions have different needs. Government is prioritising vocational education and training reform to address skills mismatches and shortages in the younger population.

Socio-economic situation

Russia has seen a decline over the last five years in the proportion of the population who are working, compared to those who are unable to work. The decline in industrial production in certain regions (including mono‑cities, or single‑industry cities) and its growth in others (including the development of innovation‑driven industries) have contributed to internal migration. Major discrepancies in socio‑economic development across Russian regions have largely contributed to this situation. Regional imbalances cause an outflow of younger people to more promising areas, leading to shortages of skills in the periphery; the highest outflows are observed from areas located in Siberia, the Volga region, and the Far Eastern Federal District.

Education and labour policies

Human resource development is the starting point for the Russian 2020 strategy. Most of the focus on education is on general and higher education, though it includes the modernisation of vocational education and training (VET). Since summer 2012, the Federal Ministry of Education and Science has a department for VET policies responsible for legislation, policy development and monitoring in relation to its federal competences.

The Russian Federation is addressing the skills gaps and skills shortages through a comprehensive modernisation of VET governance, resources and quality assurance in order to ensure better provision. This includes restructuring the network of VET institutions in the regions. The skills mismatch nevertheless remains a problem, highlighted in the Torino Process report and also from the European Business Association representing the enterprises active in Russia.

EU support and the ETF

Russia is not a beneficiary country of technical assistance from the EU. Many EU countries have bilateral cooperation with Russian education institutions and there are many examples of student exchanges between Russian colleges and European vocational education and training schools/institutions, mainly through Erasmus+.

The Russian Federation took part in the first round of the Torino Process in 2010. Starting with an assessment of vocational education and training provision in Moscow, the next rounds of 2012 and 2014 saw an increase in engagement and participation. More regions were involved in the Torino Process of 2016, resulting in a national report drafted by the Federal Institute of Education.