FIEP’s Study Has Shown High Demand from Russian Business for Process Engineers and a Growing Need for Researchers

19 March 2021

The RUSNANO’s Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs (FIEP), together with the Samara branch of RANEPA, have analyzed the requests of Russian high-tech enterprises for retraining and professional development of their specialists. The study was based on applications from businesses for educational programs received by the Fund between 2011 and 2020. The results show that domestic businesses have a consistently high demand for additional training for production engineers and that in recent years there has been a marked upsurge in the interest in the field of research and development.

The study aims to identify the groups of the most sought-after specialists in the nanoindustry and to examine the evolution of requests, as well as to formulate proposals for new training content and optimal forms of professional development. For universities and research organizations, especially those that are part of the Fund's network of partners, the results will be an additional signal to update their own curricula and courses. The business community will be better able to create an order for the training of workers by capturing key competences in this way.

“The Fund has been working on creating educational programs for high-tech businesses for 10 years. It is important to be aware of changes in the market and be prepared for them. Moreover, you always need to be prepared to meet the new challenges posed by the state. These are now the national goals approved by the President of Russia in 2020 and the reformatting of development organizations that are currently taking place within the VEB.RF Group. Using the experience gained, we should be ready to enter new technological areas,” said Stanislav Nisimov, Director of the Department of Educational Programs and Professional Skills of the Fund. He believes that the results of the study may be of interest to colleagues at ANO “eNano”, developing online courses, and to specialists implementing early career guidance projects since they need to know where to direct the children's attention so that they become marketable, high-level professionals.

The largest group for which high-tech companies requested training were process engineers, development engineers, and subject specialists whose retraining was requested by 87% of the companies. The second most popular group for training is that of production managers, as well as those involved in the management decision-making system, namely managers, marketing experts, and economists. This target group is mentioned in 36% of the requests sent during the whole period studied. However, in recent years there has been a downward trend in the demand for training in this category.

There is, however, a marked increase in the demand for further training for professionals who can be categorized as scientists and researchers. On average, over all the years, 18% of the proposals received by the Fund contained requests for additional training for this staff category, and in recent years the shortage of such specialists in companies has increased by 50%.

The need for education programs for mid-level technicians and production staff, namely technicians, laborers, and laboratory technicians, was the least necessary. Requests for their training are present in 16.5% of the total number of requests, and their numbers have generally been declining in recent years. The authors of the study believe that this is due to the widespread perception that these professional groups need to be trained in the secondary vocational education system.

The demand for specialist training in various technological areas varies considerably from company to company. For example, in the field of nanomaterials development, production and application, in addition to process engineers, the Fund is most frequently approached to train chief engineers and deputy production managers, quality experts, and research engineers (cited in a quarter of requests in this area). For optics and electronics, training of process engineers (35%), design engineers (31%) and test engineers, and testers (17%) is relevant. In the field of medicine and pharmacology, medical specialists whose work involves the use of high-tech equipment and materials (33% of requests) are the main target group for training. For Energy Efficiency, the main target groups were process engineers (50%), technologists (25%), and production staff (25%). For surface modification companies, the main target groups were process engineers (57%) and design engineers (43%).

“The enterprise requests for certain competences are indicative of the stage of production technology development in a particular sector. The industry is in its infancy as regards the need mainly for developers, designers, and planners. The demand for predominantly linear engineering occupations means that the field does not have a rapid updating of technology, but there is an active introduction of it into production,” says Viktoria Prudnikova, Director of the Samara branch of the Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration.

To strengthen the human resource potential of the deep tech industry, more than 200 retraining and professional development courses have been created with the support of the Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs; 106,000 enterprise specialists and students have been trained according to these courses. The technological areas in which FIOP programs train specialists include new materials (e.g., the development of synthesis technologies for single- and multi-component metal powders with defined properties, including for 3D-printing), photonics (in particular, there was a program on transparent laser ceramics), development of next-generation microelectronics, designing applications and devices for the Internet of Things, genomics, and biotechnology in agricultural production and many others.

The Fund’s subsidiary, ANO “eNano”, is developing e-learning in the EdTech format: more than 39,000 people have already taken the developed e-learning courses.

Reference

The Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs was established in 2010 in accordance with Federal Law No. 211-FZ “On reorganization of the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies.” The Fund aims to develop the innovative infrastructure in the sphere of nanotechnology and implement the educational and infrastructure programs already started by RUSNANO.

The supreme collegial management body of the Fund is the Supervisory Board. Under the Fund’s Charter, the competence of the Supervisory Council, in particular, includes the issues of determining the priority directions of the Fund’s activity, as well as its strategy and budget. The Chairman of the Fund’s Executive Board, the collegial management body, is the Chairman of the Board of Management Company RUSNANO LLC Sergey Kulikov.