Rector's Column

09 Сентября


Report of EvgeniaI.Mikhailova,

Rector of the North-Eastern Federal University,

at the Human Capital Development and Economy Inclusive Growth

IVAPEC International Education Conference

Under the general trends of the education development in the northeast of Russia, special attention is given to the issues of updating the universities and employers’ activities as partners for preparation of multi-functional workforce in the system of continuous education, “lifelong learning” and “accumulation of human capital assets” for strategic development of the region.

What is the policy of NEFU in this area? This is a set of measures outlined in various documents (programs, concepts, strategies, etc.), adopted by the university and agreed upon in various instances. The University strives to create such conditions allowing each organization, each enterprise in Yakutia, the Magadan Region, and the Chukotka Autonomous Region to acquire knowledge. The University is creating a system of continuous education for almost all 35 major groups and specializations, which make up 395 educational programs and 230 programs further vocational education. It is a well-known act that the stimulus for people to achieve success and greater work productivity are based on values acquired at home, at school, in professional educational institutions, and at work. These values are strengthened by the society. We are all going through difficult times, when new challenges, such as processes of scientific, educational, social and cultural, and economic globalization, increasing competitiveness almost in all spheres of life, technological development, environmental degradation, growing urbanization have become a reality. They are causing a growing impact on the people, society and the civilization as a whole. In this regard, we believe that University can serve as a stabilizer and promote the development of human capital assets. That is why NEFU undertook this social mission. Due to the limited amount of time for a fundamental report, I would like to bring a few examples from NEFU experience aimed at creating favorable conditions for every student to develop individual skills and increase competitive advantage through strengthening professional skills to perform qualified tasks (the source of income) and through involving elements of labor and social relations. Surely, the University pays special attention to intellectual and cultural development of a student as an individual; to obtain the cultural and spiritual values acquired by the society; to promote a healthy lifestyle; to make medical services, healthy nutrition, and other aspects more accessible. The Rector’s Column of the NEFU website, which Russian and English versions have more than ten thousand views, can provide more information on NEFU five years activities (2010-2014). Today, I would like to hear my colleagues’ opinion on the problems of forming the human capital assets with the help of professional training, which should be characterized by a high level of knowledge contributing to innovations and development of new ideas. 

1. During 3.5 years (2010-2013) two federal universities – Siberian and North-Eastern – had conducted a Foresight study on the outlook of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and its peoples. The financial and economic crisis of 2008-2009 rigidly outlined the situation of the historic challenge – the choice of the vector of social and economic development for the country as a whole and for its regions. As you remember, it was a choice of a future between variants of “Russia is a Raw-Material Appendage of the World” and “Russia is a Country with a Diversified Economy with a High Innovational and Technological Potential”.

Inertance of the first variant is obvious, and the implementation of the second one will demand serious efforts to preserve and develop human capital assets. We have claimed responsibility for making the analysis of the economic situation, the perspectives forecast, the demographic and migration processes, peculiarities of human capital assets development, the reproduction processes of identity, culture and languages of the indigenous peoples of the North, and others. We proceed from the understanding that economic development of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) is not the only target in the long-term outlook; things that are more important are the future of its peoples as a social and cultural community and preservation of their identity, culture and language in the modern agile world. In the coming decades the Republic will witness large-scale social and economical and cultural changes due to intensive development of natural resources and industrial and postindustrial activities, as well as entry into the global informational and cultural space. These changes can critically affect the living conditions of the republic peoples, and create new opportunities and new risks. In such a situation, it is important to move from these changes statement to feed-forward social and design activities and the management of social changes. We have chosen a Foresight study because it is designed to create a positive image of the future and the search for new opportunities but at the same time, it involves identification and analysis of positive and negative trends, possible critical situations and “wild cards” (unlikely but potentially significant changes). The task of the Foresight is to mobilize society and elites to solve problems affecting the republic future. After carrying out a heavy workload (62 employees and lecturers of 2 universities, about 2000 experts, about 10 000 respondents, analyses of trends, and others), we made the report in 5 volumes, formed generalized images of possible future of the Republic, formulated strategic ideas of the needed changes – “Keys to the Future”, presented a field of possible scenarios until the year of 2050, and defined a baseline scenario as the image of the desired future. We also presented a draft of a strategic roadmap of the Republic development.

We proceeded from the assumption that the Foresight does not close but rather opens – it actualizes the question about the future of the Republic and its peoples. We proposed this research as the beginning of our shared path, the invitation to cooperation, an enhanced dialogue between government, business, region and society about the prospects for development. The goal of the University is to convert strategic ideas into certain action programs through cooperation with the governmental authorities of the Republic. 

For instance, the research results formed the basis of the presidential election program of the Republic development and the action plan of the government of the Republic on the election program implementation during the period of 2015-2020. Also in 2014, in order to increase the efficiency of the implementation of human resources and innovative potential of the region the University together with the government of the Republic has developed an affiliate program of cooperation between business, university, government and public organizations: “Yakutia – 2022”. Research results caused changes and supplements in the 2015-2020 NEFU Development Program and the draft was introduced to the Government of the Russian Federation. 

2. As you know, the creation of federal universities is aimed at the formation and development of competitive human capital assets in the regions; the insurance of major programs of social and economic development of territories and regions with qualified personnel, and scientific, technical and technological solutions, including  implementation of the results of intellectual activity, and consolidation and involvement of people in strategically important regions. 

NEFU implements persistent extensive work on formation a learning system based on researches and introduction of universal practice-based education. We are certain the only those who are trained on the basis of research, studies, analysis, and practice will make a great contribution to the innovative development.

The university may influence social and economic development of the region through creation of small innovative enterprises, which will eventually become separate entities - good employers and taxpayers.

Since 2011, 25 (as of 2014) small innovative enterprises were created in the spheres of information technologies, medicine and biotechnology as well as energy-effective construction and municipal improvement. In the mean time, 3 projects of potential small innovative enterprises are being launched. Since 2011, the amount of produced high-tech products has increased by 35 times and reached an amount of 167 mln rubles. We plan to increase this amount to a cost of 300 mln rubles by the end of this year and to 1 bln rubles by 2018. According to the data of 2014, the NEFU small innovative enterprises created 3% out the total amount of all innovative products, services and works of organizations produced on the territory of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia). 

We pay very close attention to involving the educational research staff, postgraduates and students in the innovative research: today, the number of people engaged in the innovative ecosystem of the University reached 270 staff members. We plan to increase this number up to 1000 staff members by 2018 (including staff members of the Arctic Innovative Center, small innovative enterprises, educational research staff, postgraduates, and students, which are involved on a part-time and full-time basis). We seek methods and ways of creating a more attractive image of village areas in order for the local population to remain in their homeland and to create comfortable living and working conditions for the young people living the village areas, as well as to decrease the outcomes of fast-paced urbanization. 

In 2011-2014, we had only one resident of the student incubator; as of today, we have 17. There are many programs for involving students, such as  the “Million for an Idea” accelerative program, the winners of which received 1 mln rubles from the Yakutia venture company (The Robohouse project aimed at finding and creating a module-type solution for building automation).  

In June 2014, for instance, NEFU opened “Stroykompozit”, an innovative training and producing complex, which was further expanded into “Stroykompozit, Ltd.” small innovative enterprise. The innovative training and producing complex allows us to fill in the gap between science and actual production, to approve innovative construction materials and technologies. This complex is also a platform for the students of the Technical Engineering Institute internship, and carrying out laboratory research. 

The complex organized the production of autoclave foam concrete based on the local mineral resources; it also organized the construction of individual houses and industrial buildings on their basis. The complex also built experimental energy-efficient houses in the Namsky and the Ust-Aldansky regions of Yakutia.  Using autoclave foam concrete, the complex is building a new dormitory in the student campus (Quarter 16 in Yakutsk).   

The “Teplokomfort, Ltd.” small innovative enterprise is working on a complex engineering renovation of the multi-storied building in the conditions of high North. They also make projects and install solar power and heat systems, as well as module blocks improvement. For example, the enterprise constructed a unique warm public toilet in Yakutsk. In 2012 and 2014, the experts of the “Teplokomfort” small innovative enterprise and the “Stroykompozit” small innovative enterprise had built 4 two-storied energy-efficient houses in the Appany village of the Namsky Region. Modern technologies used in constructing the houses allowed decreasing the housing expanses by 2.5 times. This year, the “Teplokomfort” small innovative enterprise was engaged in carrying out comprehensive improvement of houses of villagers in two Arctic regions of the Republic: the Bulunsky Region and Oymyakon. This project is supported by the Government of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and is financed from the budget of social programs. 

“Amtek+, Ltd.” small innovative enterprise is working on developing and implementing automatic resource-saving systems; it also holds energy audits and implements power service contracts. Earlier, the “Amtek” company renewed the lighting system in the Pedagogical Institute of NEFU, including the replacement of old lamps by photodiode lamps, installation of motion and light sensor, as well as the implementation of automatic control system. The economic effect will reach 60,805 kW/h per year, which allowed decreasing the power energy unit expanses by 4 times. All small innovative enterprises work due to university intellectual properties, patent registrations and faculty projects. 

In 2010, the NEFU opened an Arctic Innovative Center. Owing to this center, the University carries out a completely innovative chain of fundamental research leading up to batch production. The Center is the heart of the innovative system of NEFU. It is the place where small innovative enterprises– future leaders in innovations – are created. The Center has 12 functioning laboratories, a Center of Intellectual Property, a Center of Innovations Marketing and Project Management, a Center of Shared Use, the “Orekh” Student Business Incubator and a Student Venture Fund. I brought a small list of examples where, in accordance with the thesis of “Practice - Criterion of Truth”, we strive in achieving our goals in providing high-quality training of young people. In addition, solving the problem of lack of demand for local staff due to the shortage of experts’ narrow specialization of the regional labor market, reduced the proportion of migrant workers. Such measures help to improve the efficiency of investment projects for social and economic development of the Republic, the growth of professional qualifications and standards of living of the indigenous population. 

3. Researches carried out by NEFU in the Republic, showed that fewer younger people plan to reside permanently in the Republic: this makes up 60% of the people among the age group of 20-30, and only 30% of the people among the age group of 15-20. Meanwhile, many respondents think that their children will leave the Republic on becoming of age (temporarily or permanently). This makes up 70% of the 20-30 age group and 85% among the 15-20 age group. The data reflects the young people’s natural desire for change. If this trend continues in the next 30-40 years, this will result in the large outflow of the youth in the Republic. In order to prevent or at least reduce the outflow of the population, while teaching young people from villages, we motivate them to return to home region but as specialists who have their own businesses and resources. I think most of you know what an effort it is! 

Russian government provides some financial benefits to support innovative business: on a federal level, there is a financial benefit on insurance charge, financial benefit on building and equipment rent, tax benefits (for example, for residents of the Skolkovo innovative center); on a regional level, in the Sakha Republic (Yakutia), in particular,  there are institutions of development which support young innovators (“Yakutia” venture company and technopark, etc.). However, experience shows that these measures are insufficient. The mechanisms of government support require further development. Our small innovative enterprises, for example, were required to pay 40% out of the total rent and equipment cost in the year they were launched, 60% - in the second year, 80% - in the third year and a full 100% in the fourth year in accordance with the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 677 of August 12, 2011. Meanwhile, they pay all the taxes. Whereas, in South Korea, for example, small innovative enterprises have a 5-year period preference, i.e., they do not have to pay for the building and equipment rent. After the period of 5 years, they start working independently. They have perfect business conditions. It is a well-known fact that it is not only the innovations enhance the competitiveness, but also the conditions and rules created by the government.  We need to work closely and diligently together.

The main goal of the federal university from the point of view of increasing competitiveness of the region and the country as a whole, is to, first of all, educate not simply qualified experts but professionals and teams of professionals that would be able to independently design and create new spheres of life, products and services, job places, and to take responsibility and solve problems in the conditions of advanced development, uncertainty and global changes.

Universities, being scientific and educational institutions, are now becoming institutes of social development. The University helps the society to build a model of a desired future with a perspective of becoming a guide to the future. In this regard, we propose the following: first, to establish together joint small innovative enterprises; secondly, to support project “Children of Asia 6th International Sport Games”, which the NEFU campus will host in Yakutsk, 2016.