Felix Kugel, ManpowerGroup Vice President and Managing Director, Russia and Region, led a session at the WEF Moscow Meeting, titled "Education and Skills: Investing in Talent-based Growth", which explored how Russia can develop its human capital and provide employers with the skills needed to foster productivity and innovation. A recent report by the American Enterprise Institute, "Addressing Russia's Mounting Human Resources Crisis", highlighted that Russia's population has declined in the past 20 years. Compounding this demographic shift is a fundamental mismatch between the skills the country's education system offers and those required by domestic labor markets.
"There is need for increased access to skills-based education, because at present the required skills are not being taught for the available jobs," said Kugel. "Students and employers agree that graduates entering the workforce are unprepared as business has changed and education has failed to evolve with it. This must be rectified in order for Russia to unleash the human potential in its midst and be competitive on the world stage."
ManpowerGroup recommends that, in addition to closer collaboration between business and education to harness available talent, there needs to be a focus on vocational training and bringing honor back to skilled trades. Russia's university population has tripled since 1995, while the number of vocational graduates has remained flat. 
"This is a worrying trend because Russia needs skilled plumbers, electricians and welders rather than a proliferation of liberal arts graduates," added Kugel. "These jobs no longer seem to be valued, and there needs to be a collective mindset shift in how society views skilled trades. It is also no coincidence that the countries most committed to apprenticeships have the lowest rates of youth unemployment."
The "Education and Skills" interactive session was hosted by the World Economic Forum's Network of Global Agenda Councils and addressed dimensions including analyzing recent regional reforms and learning from success stories. The session was facilitated by Yana Peel, Intelligent Squared CEO.