Innovation economy and labour market: conference in Moscow

Moscow, 15 September 2011

“The Russian Federation got out of the crisis and we expect the economic growth rates next year to be no lower than those this year,” Russian Deputy Health and Social Development Minister Maxim Topilin said in his opening remarks to the conference on Employment and Labour Market Strategies in Russia in the Context of Innovation Economy. The conference took place in Moscow on September 15 and was organized by the Russian Health and Social Development Ministry and the International Labour Organization.

However, certain risks in the labour sector pertain. Thus, according to the forecasts, in 10 years the number of the country’s labour resources will shrink, therefore it is necessary to maximally engage all existing resources and take further efforts to provide assistance with employing different categories of citizens.

In this respect Topilin especially pointed to the new comprehensive programme Accessible Environment that for the first time applies a comprehensive approach targeted at the creation of jobs for disabled persons instead of using a quota system for this category of workers.

“After the economic downturn Russia has been witnessing a recovery,” said Jose Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, ILO Executive Director (Employment Sector). “However, despite positive trends the country registers the decent work deficit, the employment growth is created though low-quality jobs, the number of atypical labour contracts is on the rise and wide regional disparities remain.”

The ILO welcomed the development of a draft state employment programme for 2011-2015. Following the programme’s development the ILO recommended Russian partners to further focus on the industry-oriented approach and the industrial development policy, to actively implement the anti-crisis programme for single-industry cities, to support businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, to strengthen the role of social partners and to further promote gender equality.

The Executive Vice-President of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, Fyodor Prokopov, named the slow pace of new jobs creation and the growth of informal employment as the main problems for Russia’s labour market. The economic growth without jobs creation is a serious risk factor, he said.

“The state employment policy should be targeted not only on the creation of jobs for those unemployed,” the chairman of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia, Mikhail Shmakov, said. “The employment policy should comply with the country’s announced transition to innovative development. First of all, this concerns the improvement of the workforce potential and effectiveness of tapping it. We need effective and innovative jobs.”

The conference continued its work in several sections. Delegates discussed the issues of coordinating the employment policy and the tasks for ensuring economic growth; the role of internal and external migration on the labour market; human resources competitiveness in the innovation economy; and employment assistance measures for citizens facing difficulties on the labour market.

The Moscow meeting was an important step in the preparation for an international high-level conference in Russia next autumn focusing on the implementation of the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin offered to host this forum in his address to the 100th session of the International Labour Conference in Geneva last June.