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Reflections on Russia’s job market for university grads

In my opinion, stereotypes related to the labor market should be eliminated

One of my friends has recently been offered a position as a professor in a foreign university. While discussing the offer with him, I thought about our job market and would like to share some ideas about it.

I’ll start with the step just after graduating from university. There are people who work in spheres that have nothing to do with their university degree, and that is mostly due to low wages in the professional spheres they would occupy. Teaching is a common example – only a few students with a diploma go in for teaching at state schools. Most prefer to find some other job even if their skills won’t be required there at all or to work in a university. However, the number of private language schools is increasing, and local authorities are considering possible grant programs, so the situation is slightly better than a decade ago.

But it still seems slightly irrational: why spend 4-5 years in a university and then do something totally different than what you studied? Such behavior can surely be found in other countries, but in Russia, its scale is a serious problem. Unfortunately, the problem is also underestimated.

Our society views a man without a job as a loser, and surely it’s difficult to build any future while facing unemployment. The promising thing is, though, that the market is developing and there are opportunities that were totally unknown a decade ago. Freelancing is one example, and this sphere is controlled rather feebly by labor legislation. Our parents’ generation finds it difficult to understand this way of working – as a result, many freelance workers are treated as if they do not have a regular job and are losers. In my opinion, that is a dangerous stereotype, and it should be eliminated.

Another stereotype involves salary. It’s been thought that a man ought to earn more than a woman since many think that all the latter has to do is look after children. Well, nowadays the job market is more flexible and absorbing Western trends. However, it does not always mean that you can earn as much as you want. The increased flexibility allows you (or even encourages you) to earn more because the inflation rate is rising more quickly than salaries are, so you have to find some part-time job. As a result, there are cases where a woman earns more than her husband.

I think families themselves should decide who the breadwinner is. The key thing for me is that the one who earns less shouldn’t be dependent on his or her partner’s salary.


May 16, 2012 | 1:57 pm