Sergey Kogogin, KAMAZ: 'There is a collapse in Naberezhnye Chelny in terms of workforce'

Demographic pitfall, the outflow of migrants, inflation, transition to remote work, and online trading are to blame for the shortage of workers

The CEOs of large manufacturing enterprises have sounded the alarm — an acute shortage of workers in the industrial complex of Tatarstan, estimated at 27,7 thousand people, may develop into a real collapse of the shortage of labour resources. The depth of the resource pitfall has turned out to be so alarming that the problem of staffing was raised at the meeting of the Security Council with the participation of President of the Republic of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov on 15 December. Minister of Industry Albert Karimov sees the reason for the shortage of personnel in the outflow of workers to online trading, and CEO of KAMAZ Sergey Kogogin is looking for ways to stop the outflow of young people from Kazan and Naberezhnye Chelny. Ministry of Labour of Tatarstan Elmira Zaripova had to “open the industrialists's eyes” who pointed out without hesitation that the wages of workers in the republic lagged by a third behind wages in Bashkortostan and Samara Oblast.

There is a “paradoxical situation” in the labour market of Tatarstan because of the youth

One of the main problems of economically developed Tatarstan — the shortage of labour force — was discussed for the first time at the highest state level, with the participation of President of the Republic of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov. The general directors of KAMAZ, Kazan Helicopters, POZIS, Kazan Gunpowder Plant, Zelenodolsk Shipyard — where there is a chronic shortage of workers amid the launch of new production programmes — came to the Kazan Kremlin for the meeting of the Security Council. Together with them, the heads of relevant ministries responsible for the training and graduation of specialists for the real sector of the economy came to the meeting with reports.

The press was on the balcony for the invitees and could observe from above how disunited the “generals” of the defence industry, the ministers of education and social protection were. They didn't seem to notice each other, walking around and sitting on opposite sides of the hall. For example, the director of KAMAZ PJSC, Sergey Kogogin, who rarely visits Kazan, had a suspiciously long conversation with the head of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Tatarstan, Rafis Khabibullin, and the head of Zelenodolsk PO Sergo Plant FSUE (POZIS), Radik Khasanov, happily exchanged news with the head of the Kazan Powder Plant, Alexander Livshits. The rectors of Kazan universities stood apart. Timur Alibayev, the acting rector of KNRTU-KAI, almost did not get up from his chair.

Opening the meeting, the president dryly stated that a “paradoxical situation” is developing in the labour market of the republic and the reason for this is the youth.

“There are serious contradictions between the demands of young people and what they can offer in terms of professional competencies," he made it clear the essence of the personnel problem.

As it followed from the brief speech, young people do not want and are not ready to go to work at factories because of low wages, while the enterprises themselves estimate their abilities extremely low.

“According to the assessment of industrial enterprises, half of the graduates of vocational schools receive an extremely low level of qualification and are absolutely not ready to work in production," said Minnikhanov.

However, enterprises simply do not have a choice.

“The demographic crisis is also added to the qualification deficit, which is accompanied by a shortage of young and middle-aged workers," the president admitted. “This slows down the creation of new industries. The urgent needs of enterprises cannot be covered by the existing unemployed.”

According to him, the shortage is 27,7 thousand people and has increased by 40%. There is a particularly large shortage in mechanical engineering. The Ministry of Labour has prepared a forecast of the need for training for 2022-2024. According to it, the demand for specialists with secondary vocational education increases by 22%, with higher school — by 37%, which will close the labour shortage. The president said that a special programme on personnel policy should be developed following the meeting.

Who is the main culprit of staff shortage

After that, Minister of Industry and Trade of the Republic of Tatarstan Albert Karimov explained that the reason for the shortage was a “perfect storm” when several negative factors coincided at once.

“Almost two million people are employed in the economy, 470 thousand of them — in industry. Demographic pitfall, the outflow of migrants, inflation, transition to remote work, and online trading are to blame for the shortage of workers," he listed.

But he considers the main culprit of the personnel shortage to be online commerce, which lures workers away from factories.

“Wages are higher than in other industries. They are willing to overpay, as the speed of processing goods is important to them. They are ready to pay any money, if only the market takeover system would work. They can pay over 80 thousand rubles a month," he complained.

He pointed out that the “enclave” has developed in the Zelenodolsk district, where about 10 thousand jobs have been created.

“Another 2,5 thousand are planned to be created. And Wildberries has become the largest employer in Zelenodolsk," he shared his experiences.

Other CEOs of the defence industry spoke with him in one voice. For example, the head of POZIS, Radik Khasanov, confessed that for the first time in 20 years they felt an acute shortage of workers. According to him, they are lacking 400 workers. Khasanov said that because of this, he refused an additional state defence order for 2 billion rubles this year.

The head of Alabuga SEZ, Timur Shagivaleev, also did not evade this point, noting that the professions of sorter and storekeeper are “dead-end” in terms of professional competencies, but due to high wages, online trading manages to “win back” the workforce. By the way, he gave information about who is considered a specialist in Alabuga. This is a young person with 2 years of experience as a programmer, the salary is 60 thousand rubles.

“Personnel shortage is not only a bottleneck, soon this problem will not just restrain, but kill," Sergey Kogogin boiled up at the meeting. “If we take Naberezhnye Chelny, then there is a collapse in terms of labour. The unemployment rate is virtually zero. A lot of new jobs are being created, and school graduates do not stay in the city. Only 34% remains," he stated. “The question: What's going on? I cannot say that our higher education institutions are located somewhere down in Russia and do not arouse interest. No. So why are our young people leaving? Well, the social sphere is not developed in Naberezhnye Chelny, but they are also leaving Kazan.”

“I only ask you not to lynch among employees”

The question remained rhetorical. Ministry of Labour of Tatarstan Elmira Zaripova had to “open the industrialists's eyes” who pointed out without hesitation that the wages of workers in the republic lagged by a third behind wages in Bashkortostan and Samara Oblast.

The president of the Republic of Tatarstan recommended not only to deal with the problem of increasing wages, but also to improve professional competencies.

Elmira Zaripova gave illustrative figures why young people do not want to study to be a cook, seamstress or mechanic. It was clear from the slides that after the completion of secondary vocational education, they were offered a salary of 12,792 rubles.

“We called 1,800 graduates of vocational schools, who, after graduating, did not go to work in their specialty. Each of them named a low salary," she said.

Graduates of more monetary specialties — a driver, mechanic, a CNC operator — have a salary lagging by a third compared to the nearest regions. For example, a driller earns 53 thousand rubles, and in Bashkiria — 62 thousand, an electric welder — 37 thousand rubles, and in other regions — 52 thousand rubles.

Finally, she said that this year the number of recipients of social benefits among able-bodied workers has increased by 2 times. Moreover, their low earnings are confirmed by official certificates.

“I only ask you not to arrange a lynching trial among workers who come with applications for social assistance," Zaripova asked the heads of enterprises.

The way out of this situation is considered in attracting young people from low-income regions (Mari El, Kirov Oblast, Altai), as well as in accelerated training of migrants from Uzbekistan. For this purpose, it is proposed to increase the number of places in halls of residence or in small one-room apartments for students of colleges who intend to work at enterprises. The proposals made will be submitted to the work of a special group to address the shortage of personnel, which will be headed by Prime Minister of Tatarstan Aleksey Pesoshin.

Luiza Ignatyeva. Photo:

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