Galina Akhmerova: ‘Active youth devotes a lot of time to self-development’

What Tatarstan youth is interested in: open analytics based on the results of the PROinterest festival

Galina Akhmerova: ‘Active youth devotes a lot of time to self-development’
Photo: Dinar Fatykhov/

Almost 80% of young people in Russia are engaged in self-development, and most of all they are interested in science, psychology, history, urban studies, the development of soft skills and contemporary art. The data are provided in a joint study of the Znanie Russian Society and the Russian Public Opinion Research Centre (VCIOM). However, it is difficult, and sometimes impossible, to make a single rating of hobbies of children and adolescents, because the world has become much more diverse, and the opportunities to express oneself are endless, says Galina Akhmerova, the founder of the Darwin Foundation for the Development of Accessibility of Modern Education and creator of Round platform. In the author's column for Realnoe Vremya, the expert discusses how important it is for young people to reveal their individuality and how a personalised approach, as well as the creation of an environment and opportunities, will help in this.

“People don't understand what's going on in the minds of teenagers”

Young people are the backbone and future of our country. And how young people live is a question that always worries both parents, companies, and the state. Now it is an extremely dynamic time, and people, especially those who grew up in other conditions and rules, do not understand what is going on in the minds of teenagers and young people.

I myself, communicating with my children, am surprised how my and their interests do not overlap. The elder, for example, is fond of history, philosophy, world politics. And the average one prefers active sports (motocross, offroad) and suddenly became interested in plant growing: he grew seedlings of tomatoes, peas, and lemon balm on the windowsill.

Various studies are being conducted to better understand the younger generation. For example, not so long ago, we did a survey of the values of the generation.

Today I propose to talk about interests.

In the joint study of the Znanie Russian society and VCIOM on the consumption of educational content among young people from 16 to 35 years old, they identified the popularity of the topics such as:

  • science — 74% of respondents;
  • psychology and history — 69% each;
  • urbanism — 41%;
  • soft skills — 39%;
  • contemporary art — 34%;
  • journalism — 26%;
  • fashion — 25%.
Various studies are being conducted to better understand the younger generation. Dinar Fatykhov/

At the same time, in general, educational content is consumed by almost 80% of Russians aged 16 to 35, as follows from the survey.

Analysts of the Mir payment system also conducted their research of the audience aged 14 to 24 years to find out what they are interested in:

“Most of the topics young people are attracted to foreign languages, primarily the youngest representatives of the generation, as well as information technology and psychology. Older respondents are much less likely than others to prefer music lessons. The respondents are least interested in culture and law. The older the zoomers, the more often they relax in front of the TV and get more interested in podcasts, but less often they watch the channels of bloggers and celebrities, and after 21 years they listen to music less.”

Self-development is important to distinguish as a separate interest, lifestyle

Following the results of the annual PROinterest festival, which was held in Tatarstan in May 2023 on the Round platform, we collected statistics based on the general data of participants.

First, gender. About 58% of users are girls. Boys — 31% (11% did not specify gender). As our practice shows, girls are more flexible in this regard, it is easier for them to log into a new system, regularly upload content. Perhaps, this is due to their interest in the topic of self-development. Active young people devote a lot of time to this particular direction, and they do not understand it the way we are used to. It is important to single out self-development as a separate interest, lifestyle, it includes hypertrophied productivity development with a prescribed minute-by-minute schedule, attending events, maintaining checklists for their actions and broadcasting activities. Not every adult will have such a busy schedule.

Hence the craving for mentors among young people. Another global trend. Account producers, experts, and mentors in narrow niches become a salvation in a world of limitless information. “Repeat my path and you will be like me.” Then, there are both bona fide and not so players in the information market.

The main participants of the festival are young people from 13 to 23 years old. Their top topics and interests are arranged as follows:

  • photography — 75%;
  • eco-friendly construction — 65%;
  • videography — 63%;
  • graphic design — 48%;
  • engineering — 31%;
  • gardening — 29%;
  • drawing — 28%.
Girls are more flexible in this regard, it is easier for them to log into the new system, regularly upload content. Dinar Fatykhov/

For us and the participating companies, these are primarily indicators of growth zones — how other areas can be highlighted through interests, sometimes adjacent, and sometimes seemingly unrelated. For example, through interest in photography, you can teach not only art (consider composition or coloristics), but also physics, starting with studying the structure of the camera. We are used to that usually soft skills are adjacent and transitive. Although in fact, some skills from the category of hard can also be applied to several spheres. And, given the disparity of the interests of young people, this approach becomes relevant.

Agatha, 15 years old (Kazan):

“I have been participating for the second year and have won more than once. I got headphones, smart watches, speakers, certificates for Ozon, and other valuable awards for me. I have not yet decided on a profession and for this I really love this festival, because thanks to it I got acquainted with many areas of life, tried myself in them and even took note of some of them. I remember the tasks Goldberg Machine (KAMAZ), Moodboard (VTB), School of the Future (Tatneft), and Eco-Friendly Refuelling (Grid Company). Next year, I am planning not only to participate in this festival, but also to invite friends!

Alsu Nurieva, head of human resources office at Kama Tyres complex (participates in the festival for the second year in a row):

“In the tyre business, the company pays great attention to career guidance. Tyre production is specific and, therefore, it is important to form an interest and a positive attitude towards a potential place of work in the future among schoolchildren and students. This festival attracted the attention of the tyre business with its creative approach and personalised career guidance, which makes it attractive among the younger generation for a conscious choice of a future profession. We were pleasantly surprised by the interest of the participants who showed their abilities when performing our task of creating a tyre model in 3D programs. It is important to maintain the interest that has arisen in tyre production in the coming years, so we will be glad to continue cooperation.

For each participating company, we send our list of related competencies-interests. They can see what other tasks are of interest to those who participated in their competition. Sometimes, very interesting portraits of the audience are obtained. There is something to work with further and deeper.

Leniza Khurmatullina, Director of Human Resources Development Department at KAMAZ PJSC:

“The company took part in the career guidance festival twice, and in 2023, it became the general partner of the event.

Taking into account the peculiarities of the younger generation, we believe that children need a special approach: addressing, communicating information through gadgets and social networks in a short, bright format. The festival offers personal career guidance for young people through a mobile application by recognising their strengths, forming professional interests, getting acquainted with companies, their field of activity, and main professions. For us, this is an opportunity to introduce teenagers to the company, to lay the foundation for a positive attitude towards it. It is important that every child who has shown interest in the auto giant can get good advice and publish their work, as well as get a unique chance to continue communicating with representatives of the company. It is for these purposes that we have created our account on the application platform.

The interest in detailed study and the need for communication with young people are also demonstrated by the companies themselves. Tatneft, for example, heads the ecology direction within the framework of our festival. This time, the winners of their School of the Future competition in Round managed to attend a personal meeting with the rais of Tatarstan, Rustam Minnikhanov, within the framework of the Oil Summit of the republic in 2023. I will share the link to the project of one of the winners: it is made in Minecraft, a popular game for teenagers. It's great to see two worlds meet. Here, the guys, using their usual tools, respond to the challenges of modernity.

provided to by Tatarstan rais's press service

As we can see, it is very difficult, and maybe even impossible, to make a single rating of interests and hobbies, as it could have been 10-15 years ago. Because the world has become much more diverse, the opportunities to express yourself and try yourself have also become endless, largely thanks to social networks and the Internet. Revealing their individuality is what is important for modern youth. Therefore, a personalised approach, the creation of an environment and opportunities, maximum support and acceptance, seems to be the most necessary thing from the older generation.

Galina Akhmerova

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The author's opinion may not coincide with the position of the editorial board of Realnoe Vremya.

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