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Monitoring labor market for highly qualified R&D personnel

2010

The project has been carried out as part of the HSE Basic Research.The project is aimed at collecting data on social characteristics of a group which is supposed to play a major role in advancing Russia’s economic development, namely personnel with the highest level of research qualifications employed in the science and technology sector (doctorate holders). Until recently this group remained on the periphery of Russian sociological and economic studies, one of the main reasons being the lack of statistics on doctorate holders (candidates and doctors of science). Filling this gap should contribute to Russia’s (and the HSE specifically) integration into the international network on «Careers of doctorate holders» (CDH) bringing together researchers from 25 countries under the auspices of the three major international organisations – the OECD, Eurostat and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics.

In accordance with the CDH methodology the Russian project is oriented towards four major issues: the role of doctorate holders in innovation and the knowledge-based economy, labour market supply of and demand for doctorate holders, correlation between the education level and current activities and the mobility of doctorate holders (both internal and external).

The project is planned to be fully implemented in six years period. The first stage of monitoring was completed in 2010The sample of 3,450 respondents represented about 1% of the estimated general population.

The collected data allowed making certain conclusions regarding the overall state and the Russian S&T development trends in terms of human capital, and contribution of doctorate holders to the national economy. The survey allowed the answering such questions as who represents Russian science today, which activities the most highly educated members of the society are engaged in, and what are their positions in the modern social structure.

In particular, the following aspects were addressed:

  • personal and socio-demographic characteristics of doctorate holders;
  • educational characteristics (the country where they received their basic education and doctorate degree,  the number of years spent preparing their thesis, research ares, etc.);
  • employment characteristics (employment status, type of contract, employment sector, labour mobility, average salary, etc.);
  • research output (the number and types of publications, patenting activity, ownership of intellectual property, participation in commercialisation of research results);
  • international mobility (length of and reasons for staying outside the country of usual residence, frequency of moving, reasons for leaving the country of origin, or for returning to it, etc.).

In the course of the study  as well as in the course of the international CDH project generally particular attention was paid to the professional and international mobility of doctorate holders. This aspect relevant to the EU countries is also quite important to Russia as well  considering the country’s intent to raise the level of R&D up to international standards, modernise the economy and implement radical innovations. Various aspects of mobility were analysed in the scope of our project: geographical, sectoral, institutional, professional, and international.

The results obtained allow us to conclude that internationalisation of the Russian labour market of doctorate holders is rather low. Evidence of that includes the little involvement of research and teaching staff in international cooperation; insignificant proportion of doctorate holders who studied or worked abroad; and an extremely low number of people who received their doctorates abroad. Russia remains a predominantly doctorate holder exporting country, though in recent years the outflow has somewhat reduced.  Backward mobility of internationally awarded doctorates – the youngest, most productive and internationally active group – is a serious challenge for  S&T development in Russia.

It should be noted that generally the target population displays a rather low level of overall professional mobility: just under a fifth of the surveyed doctorate holders have ever changed jobs. In almost 50% of such cases, changing jobs also involved changing their employment sector. Orientation towards R&D activities, position in formal hierarchy and “cultural capital” of the family have a positive effect on sectoral mobility. The survey showed that young scientists and professional researchers not burdened with administrative responsibilities and oriented towards scientific career  are more flexible regarding changing jobs and employment sectors than representatives of other groups.

The mobility of R&D personnel increases due to emergence of new opportunities for already established as well as radically new forms of mobility. Accordingly, the overall growth of “mobility sources” depends on the amount of accumulated scientific assets. The bigger this “capital”, the higher the mobility level of a doctorate holder. In turn, opportunities to accumulate scientific assets depend on the level of mobility. Thus it turns out that mobility of doctorate holders is proportional not to the “scientific capital” as such, but to its power function.

Regular monitoring of the labour market of doctorate holders and the relevant analytical results may become a reliable tool for analysis and efficient use of highly skilled human resources potential considered as one of the major components of the national innovation system.