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"We do not have to miss engineers"

Chief Engineer of the Far Eastern Railway Sergey Ryabov - on technology, youth and motivation

The Far Eastern Railway is a highway passing through the territory of just six subjects of the Far East, the main transport artery for millions of tons of cargo, which is serviced by more than 55 thousand employees. During the All-Russian Congress of Engineers, which was held in Komsomolsk-on-Amur on 5-6 September, EastRussia asked the chief engineer of the road Sergei Ryabov where engineers from the largest enterprise of the region appeared, how they were prepared and what motivated them to choose technical specialties

Photo: Press service of Russian Railways
- How important is the engineering staff for the railway?

- We have collected almost all types of equipment that only exist in the world - from several types of rolling stock to those that are now being done by the "digital economy" - data transmission and control systems. Of course, these are all complex systems. An engineering corps is needed everywhere. An engineer is the person who "makes the weather" at any enterprise. It is aimed at development, at stable operation, at finding answers to the "challenges" faced by rail transport. More than 16 thousand people with higher education are on the road.

- Probably, in general, most engineers in the Far East - do you? 

- If you evaluate all sectors of the economy and social sphere, then, probably, yes. Railway transport is a high-tech production. Naturally, it should be serviced by technologically trained people. 

"Where do the engineers come from?" 

- We pay great attention to encouraging young people to choose the railway profession. It starts with a kindergarten - we have departmental kindergartens, where the children of railway workers are told and show how their parents work. At the major nodes of the road there are our boarding schools, where children from remote villages study, in ordinary schools we are engaged in vocational guidance in agreement with the heads of municipalities. There is a "guidebook of the entrant", where the information on the Far Eastern Railway, its achievements, history, the opportunity to work here, the rules for enrolling in railway specialties, the benefits of targeted training and benefits for young specialists are comprehensively presented. We think this is important. 

- Targeted set is now a rarity for the enterprises. What is its scale on the Far Eastern Railway?

- Now we carry out targeted training of schoolchildren, contracts have already been concluded for 236 specialists. This year we open a lyceum on the basis of the Baikal-Amur Railway Transport Institute, from 1 September, there will be recruited 25 pupils - graduates of 2018-2019. We use elective classes, we reserve places for "target students" at the Far Eastern University of Communications. 

- Does it remain the base for you?

- The University is generally the flagship of training specialists in more than 30 specialties of the transport direction - not only in railway, but also in other types of transport, in particular, aviation.  

- How many students take the road to practice?

- Last year they took 857, this is a double annual graduation of students. 

- Do they all get practical skills?

- Practice - production. 284 student in the practice of receiving a salary. 

- Do you think that the railwaymen managed to create a system of continuous training?  Really has the effect that from kindergartens begin to show work on the road?

- Yes of course. We conducted an analysis and see that those children who go to our kindergartens, as a rule, study well in specialized technical schools and lyceums, receive decent training at the university. 

- What is the result for the railway? Do you have young cadres?

- Over the past 10 years, the share of young specialists in the Far Eastern Railway has increased from 20% to 40%. Almost half of the railway staff is young people under the age of 35 years. This is also encouraging, and inspires confidence that we are on the right track.

- Do these people continue to study after graduating from higher education? 

- At 2018 year, the program of training and professional development for the Far Eastern Railway will cover more than 19,2 thousand people. Of course, this is a huge amount. More than 8 thousand of them are managers.

- Is there a need to attract high-quality specialists from other regions?

- Yes, every year we take work from other regions, not only graduates, but also young specialists. Given that the Khabarovsk Territory is more developed and has a greater population density than other regions of the Far East - as a rule, they travel from the nearest regions and regions, beginning from Buryatia. 

- Are they graduates of other universities, not just the basic university?

- We need not only transport specialists, but also doctors, programmers, organizers, and so on. We employ specialists who have graduated from the North Caucasus University, Siberian State University of Railways.

- What is the main motivation for working as an engineer on the railway now? Good salaries, stability?

- Today the railway is a dynamic production, a company that provides a full opportunity to develop. Every year we have new locomotives, new equipment, new technologies, you never get bored. The average salary paid to our employees is quite high. Let's say that in the Jewish Autonomous Region we have the first place in terms of average wages among all industries. In the Khabarovsk Territory - in second or third place, depending on the region, in the Amur Region - about the same. Our employees are fully provided with all social benefits, we have a collective agreement, our own pension system. 

- So there is probably no deficit, are they standing in line?

- There is a deficit. There is both competition and deficit. The latter is where the road passes through deserted places, where there are no settlements, but there is only a road. Far Eastern Railroad is almost 12,5 thousand kilometers. Where there are only railway workers, there is a deficit. On the other hand, where the railway goes - there is always life, you look at the map, all the villages, especially on the BAM, are located in the railway zone. 

- How do you identify and encourage the best?

- The engineering corps, as a rule, works in rationalization activities, increases not only labor productivity, but also improves the operation of devices and technology. Last year, we received 21 million rubles of economic effect from rationalization work. We actively participate in the industry competition of inventions, in the all-Russian competition "Engineer of the Year". As a rule, this increases attention to the problems of engineering personnel, to improving professionalism, and disseminating best practices. Such contests make a significant contribution.

- What is more important - holding such competitions of professional skills or events, like the congress of engineers? 

- Both forms are important. At events such as the congress, we ourselves evaluate where and in what direction we are moving. We adopt the experience that exists in other fields of engineering activity, we see how the industry as a whole, technology develops. The competitions that we hold inside are an assessment of the degree of training of our personnel. But, for example, the first place in the development of industry is now the theme of ecology. If we analyze the situation only in ourselves - it will be, frankly speaking, rather poor. Participation in forums on an environmental theme is another matter.
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