Vienna, June 6 – Even as President Dmitry Medvedev presented awards to women with large families and welcomed a small uptick in the birthrate, a major Moscow study has concluded that Russia’s demographic decline is having an increasing impact on its workforce and that by 2025, Moscow will have to find ways to cope with a serious case of “cadres hunger.”
According to research prepared by the business advisory group ANKOR, the population of Russia will decline by some 20 million people and as a result the country will suffer from “cadres hunger,” unable to fill not only basic workforce positions but key jobs needed to keep the economy operating (www.nr2.ru/rus/285938.html).
There is already a problem in this regard, ANKOR concludes, given that many employers need more highly qualified cadres than the higher educational institutions of Russia are currently producing, with the situation especially acute in outlying regions from which the most educated segments of the population are fleeing..
Given this prospect, ANKOR experts say in their report, “Cadres and Business of Russia and the CIS Countries – a Review of the Nest 20 Years,” Moscow will have no choice but to seek to attract up to 35 million immigrants and especially those with advanced education and special skills (www.pravda.ru/economics/prognoses/03-06-2010/1034605-news-0/).
The report notes that Education and Science Minister Andrey Fursenko has concluded that “in the next three years, the number of students [in Russian higher educational institutions] will decline by two million people,” a figure that will make it far more difficult for modern sectors of the economy to recruit.
Fursenko added that as “the number of students declines by 40 percent, the demographic crisis is now hitting the sphere of professional education. If until recently [officials] observed a stormy growth in the number of students of higher educational institutions, now and in the next three years, a decline of a minimum of two million is expected.”
And “five years from now, the real sector of the economy will be affected because then there will arise a serious cadres imbalance.” And at least until 2020, there is no reason to expect that this imbalance will be corrected. After all, those who will be 20 in that year have already been born, meaning that this is not an estimate but an actuarial projection.
But attracting the necessary number of highly skilled migrants may be impossible. And that means the ANKOR report concludes that Russia will have to consider domestic measures including raising the retirement age, creating lifetime learning opportunities, increasing productivity, and introduction of robotics.
As dismal as the figures the ANKOR report offers, another set of data from Rosstat, the State Statistical Agency, are even bleaker. They show, as “Kommersant” reported last week, that Russians are marrying more rarely and divorcing more often, a trend that appears likely to end the birthrate down still further (www.kommersant.ru/doc.aspx?DocsID=1379908).
For the country as a whole in the first quarter of this year, “the number of marriages per 1,000 population fell to 5.3 from 6.1 a year ago, and the number of divorces per 1,000 citizens fell to 4.4 per 1,000 from 4.8 per 1000 a year earlier, but the number of divorces per 1,000 marriages grew from 786 in the first quarter of 2009 to 825 in the first quarter of 2010.”
In the major cities, the falloff in the number of marriages was greater, while in some regions – almost all of them rural and Muslim, the number of divorces remained very low. In Chechnya, for example, there were only 91 divorces per 1,000 marriages, with the analogous figures for Ingushetia being 101 and for Daghestan,
That pattern in turn means that even as the birthrate falls overall, the share that members of traditionally Muslim communities make up is certain to rise and to do so at a rate even higher than many have predicted up to now, something certain to disturb many in Moscow who already fear the consequences of a change in the country’s ethnic and religious balance.