Russian Engineers' Social Standing in an Age of Austerity

Sunday, 10 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 6A P (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Distributed Paper
Olesya YURCHENKO, Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia
Valery MANSUROV, Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia
The dialogue around engineers has increased as concerns about the quality of engineering have been raised in Russia. Every modern industrial country needs technological expertise to be competitive in the global market, and it is critical to train engineers to provide that expertise. Modern Russia is one of the countries with the most engineering graduates. Higher engineering education in quantitative terms shows positive trends, but there are concerns and challenges for the quality of engineering and technical education. Russian higher education institutions that train engineers are not listed in any international rankings of the best universities. The situation was quite different at the Soviet time, when Soviet higher engineering education institutions were prestigious. This paper is dealing with how engineers in Russia have been affected by economic reforms, particularly by austerity policies, in their working conditions and in the content of their profession. An analysis of modern engineers' social status and their views on their low social standing have become one of the central issues in the ongoing project 'Russian Engineers: Development of the Profession in the Reforms'. The interview research aims to investigate the background, work situation, and the attitudes and values of engineers in the lights of austerity policies. In the paper we shall present selected results of the interview research with engineers and show the main barriers and reasons that hinder young people from choosing the career of engineering or from persisting it. One of the main reasons is the decrease of the prestige of engineering in society and the lack of state support for professionalism in engineering.