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New Personnel Selection System Now Active across the Country

The social mobility system created under President Vladimir Putin’s initiative begins with a search for talented children and ends with training and selection of the best top executives. On April 10, the participants of a plenary session on ‘The New System of Social Mobility in Russia as a Way to Renew the Elite’ at the XX April International Academic Conference discussed the details of this system, as well as its future outlook.

Staff Potential

Human intellect and creativity are becoming drivers of change in today’s world in the context of the next technology revolution, said  Sergey Kirienko, First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Administration of Russia, as he opened the plenary session.

‘The faster the world changes, the more often we have to make fundamental decisions. The country’s competitiveness, as well as the development of each citizen depends on how well and precisely these decisions are made. That’s why Russia’s President has been consistently deploying a human resource system in the country for many years,’ Mr. Kirienko declared.

He believes that social mobility programmes help first in revealing talent and create conditions for it to develop. But today, that is not enough: the state must take measures to equalize opportunities for people’s development regardless of their age.

Opportunities for Everyone

Mr. Kirienko spoke about different parts of the system, which begins with federal children’s camps and the Sirius Educational Centre. They are continued by a project called ‘Russia – Country of Opportunities’, which is aimed at people of various ages with a variety of skills, knowledge and experience. The project includes a student contest called ‘I’m a Professional’ and the ‘Leaders of Russia’ competition. The next stage is the Higher School of Public Administration, which has been created with the support of HSE University.

This year, over 1.5 million people took part in the “Russia – Country of Opportunities” projects. The demand is huge

The new initiatives not only create a functioning system of social mobility, but it alters the culture of personnel selection in the country, which is the main idea behind the president’s initiative, claims Mr. Kirienko. The selection system is now active in all Russian regions. About 30 regions have already launched staff projects, which are leading to major appointments. ‘These projects are having an impact on those who haven’t yet taken a step, who haven’t gotten off the couch, and who haven’t yet applied for the competition yet, because they are afraid or don’t think this is something serious,’ Mr. Kirienko said.

First Results

‘The new system of personnel selection has started operating in all regions of the country. As a result of the competition, people are really being appointed to high positions,’ noted Mr. Kirienko. For example, there are deputy federal ministers and governors among the winners of the ‘Leaders of Russia’ competition. The President has appointed over 15 heads of regions from among graduates of the Higher School of Public Administration. ‘At first, they were appointed as acting executives, but later they received the support and trust of the public after having gone through elections,’ he added.

With these new initiatives, Russia is restoring a system of mentorship as an important part of social mobility. ‘I believe that important knowledge in administration is transferred not through textbooks, but rather from person to person,’ Mr. Kirienko said. This is because every successful administrator has had experienced mentors.

Another important factor is that people are selected as a result of tests, which sometimes comes as a surprise. ‘This is how executives have been selected in China for 17 centuries, and it did not matter what family they had come from,’ Mr. Kirienko emphasized.

What Else Do We Need?

According to HSE Rector Yaroslav Kuzminov, to be successful in global competition, Russia ‘should combine a very fast social and technological renewal with growing social sustainability and national solidarity.’

These are complex tasks requiring a search for new tools in social and staff policy

Although he emphasized that several problems may arise during the presidential social mobility reform.

 A leader may find no support and understanding in the new environment; the environment may reject him or her. That’s why it is necessary to create a mutual support network, as well as managerial and professional teams. Such work is being performed as part of the ‘Leaders of Russia’ competition. ‘After launching the initial mechanisms, the “I’m a Professional” contest, as well as other tools of the “Russia – the Country of Opportunities” programme must promote an environment, a communication system, sharing of best practices, and team evolution,’ said the HSE Rector.

 According to Yaroslav Kuzminov, existing institutions should not hinder the evolving social mobility. Such obstacles include market structures that suppress competition, monitoring and regulatory activities, public procurement systems, and outdated standards that force managers to spend two thirds of their energy on following and evading the existing regulations.

 There is a lack of incentives and clear signals for those moving up the career ladder, as well as for those who hesitate to step on it. The HSE rector suggested restoring the system of state awards that existed both in the Soviet Union and Tsarist Russia.

 Differences in earning potential in various fields needs to be eliminated, when salaries in business are much higher than they are in public service.

Even when social mobility is working well, there is still a big share of citizens who are unsuccessful, and their lack of success is often caused by external factors. About a million young people ranging in age from 15 to 25 do not study or work, which makes up 17% of the age cohort. Overcoming this lack of success, the HSE rector believes, is a major challenge for the country. ‘A country’s social sustainability depends on the prospects for the strong, as well as the actions of those who are not as successful,’ Yaroslav Kuzminov concluded.

© HSE University/ Mikhail Dmitriev

Local Experience

Some heads of Russian regions shared their experience of social mobility development at the plenary session. Andrey Nikitin, Governor of the Novgorod Region and mentor to three participants in the ‘Leaders of Russia’ competition, said that winners of such staff competitions are being appointed to key positions in the region and are working to promote its development. They include the region’s new Minister of Education, whose appointment has led to local school students achieving success at national competitions.

According to Dmitry Azarov, Governor of the Samara Region, the generation that is reaching adulthood today will seriously change the world. Stability is not a key value for them, as it was for their parents who survived the 1990s. The Samara Region pays considerable attention to talent scouting, and there are a number of projects where young people aged 14 to 30 can showcase their talents.

Alexander Burkov, Governor of the Omsk Region, emphasized that it is important to provide mobility opportunities for outstanding leaders between the business community and the public administration system. For example, the Omsk city administration attracts professionals from other spheres who suggest creative solutions and accelerate the decision-making process, which is beneficial for the city and the entire region.

First among Equals

Some winners of the ‘Russia – the Country of Opportunities’ project competitions shared their success stories at the plenary session. For example, Evgeny Grabchak, Department Head at Russia’s Ministry of Energy, said that participation in the competition fostered his active self-education, which is even more important than career advancement.

Elizaveta Litvintseva, gold winner of the ‘I’m a Professional’ contest in the ‘Oil & Gas’ category, told the audience how, thanks to her participation in the contest, she found a job at Lukoil Engineering. ‘After graduation, I was afraid to go to an interview, since I was no different from the others. The contest provides students with an opportunity to become first among equals, make a statement, and create a personal brand. It helps in choosing a place of work and realize your potential in the chosen field.’

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