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- Young Russians face dwindling job opportunities as multinational companies leave the country.
- Young Russians will also find it more difficult to pursue higher education in Europe.
- The Russian economy will contract by 11.2% in 2022, according to a World Bank forecast released in April.
Young Russians entering the labor market and pursuing higher education are being roughed up.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, multinational corporations have left Russia in droves, while sanctions from major global economies escalate. Meanwhile, changes are taking place at Russian universities, making it difficult for students in the country to pursue higher education elsewhere.
“We’re really stepping into kind of uncharted territory in a lot of ways,” Hassan Malik, senior sovereign analyst at Boston-based investment management consultancy Loomis Sayles, told Insider.
Experts told Insider that it was impossible, just months after the start of the war, to quantify the impact of the war on young Russians. But they also said the generation that grew up under President Vladimir Putin’s presidency – which started in 2012 – now experiences a very different Russia from the one it grew up in.
Loosely called the “Putin generation”, this group of young people grew up knowing only one president in their formative years and are between 17 and 25 years old, according to the Wilson Center. They grew up eating McDonald’s, watching the latest Hollywood movies and posting on instagram – which, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February, are no longer available in Russia.
Two experts Insider spoke to talked about how much harder it would be for young Russians at work and school.
Multinationals are leaving en masse, limiting professional opportunities
As in many countries, the value of a good education in Russia is that it opens doors not only for local employers, but also for multinational companies that provide employees with the opportunity to enter and exit the labor market freely. European. These windows close quickly.
“A lot of multinationals had promised good, stable careers, where you can advance on your merits in a sort of traditional western capitalist model,” said Andrew Lohsen, a fellow in the Europe, Russia and Eurasia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. . “These opportunities are drying up as these companies leave Russia, and some of the industries that promised high wages are starting to be crippled by the sanctions.”
Lohsen cited oil and gas and IT as some sectors where multinationals are leaving in droves, leaving an uncertain future for those looking to enter these major industries. Earlier this month, US tech giants IBM and Microsoft laid off hundreds of employees in Russia as the companies continued to pull out of the market.
These exits do not only concern the labor market. They will also reduce the training and professional networks of Russian professionals, Malik told Insider.
In response, many Russian tech workers are leaving, Belle Lin, Masha Borak and Kylie Robison of Insider reported in April. While many left for fear of being drafted into war, some said they were motivated by the impact of the sanctions on their work.
In April, the world Bank said Russia’s economy is expected to contract by 11.2% in 2022, marking its worst economic contraction in three decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Russian universities and education will cancel open debate and push for top-down thinking
Experts Insider spoke to also expressed concern about the future of Russia’s university system as the country seeks to emerge from the Bologna Process in which European governments align education standards and qualifications.
“This means that Russians who plan to do higher education in Europe – especially a professional degree or a doctorate – will have a much harder time trying to get into European universities,” Lohsen told Insider. Russia plans to return to the Soviet standard, which makes it very difficult for any kind of European university to verify its academic credentials, he added.
The European academic community is particularly concerned about freedom of open debate in Russia after 700 rectors and university presidents of Russian universities signed a letter nine days after the start of the invasion endorsing the Kremlin’s version of events – namely that Moscow is aiming for a “demilitarization and denazification” of Ukraine, the Times Higher Education the magazine reported, citing the letter, which has since been taken down.
“What we’re seeing is the politicization of the education system, and it’s top-down,” Lohsen said. “There is a real shift in Russian education towards embracing the state narrative and excluding any sort of doubt or alternative, and punishing those who step out of line.”
Malik said he had participated in conferences with Russian and international institutions in the past where there was a dynamic exchange of ideas. He now thinks it would now be extremely difficult, especially since Russia passed a law in March, which would jail up to 15 years those who intentionally spread “fake” news about the military.
Political upheaval unlikely even if Russians are unhappy, experts say
While the situation looks grim, Moscow has stepped up its propaganda in recent years to promote a top-down structure with state, military and church at the heart of Russian society, Lohsen said. Along with a largely state-controlled or Kremlin-linked media environment, such messages could divert people’s attention from impending economic hardship, he added.
Some young Russians unhappy with Putin’s reign fled the country after the outbreak of war. But there are day-to-day practicalities to consider for Russians who want to start afresh outside their home country – such as long-term visas, employment and financial resources, which are now harder to come by. find because of war-related sanctions, Malik and Lohsen told Insider.
Inside Russia, support for the war remains. At the end of May, an independent Russian pollster called the Levada Center conducted a survey of 1,634 Russians and found that 60% of Russians between the ages of 18 and 24 supported the war.
There is no sign that anything will change politically – although there are pockets of dissent, Malik said.
“A revolution is more likely in a democracy than in an autocracy — because in a democracy you can just have elections,” he told Insider. After all, economic conditions in the former Soviet Union were worse than they are in Russia today – but nothing has changed for decades, he added.
“For discontent to translate into policy change, let alone regime change in an autocracy, the bar is very high,” he said.