Healthy Labor Market Short on Skilled Technicians, Managers

The Russian job market is showing stable, gradual growth and is in dire need of experienced, highly skilled professionals and managers, according to a biannual e-mail survey of recruiters by The Moscow Times. Moreover, this shortage of expertise extends to most sectors of the economy, recruiters said.

Although headhunters don't expect hiring to fall in the near future, they said employers are showing some caution in taking on staff as uncertainty over the eurozone crisis continues. Overall, the Russian job market is seeing considerable activity, as it has over the past two years, said Julia Kaliakina, PR manager at recruiting agency Staffwell.

"Even during the summertime, employers are posting new vacancies, and candidates are responding to these offers and are prepared to change jobs," Kaliakina said.

Hiring is clearly rising overall. In a survey of 4,300 middle and senior managers released at the end of August, Antal found that 55 percent of respondents reported that their employers had increased the number of staff over the past year. Meanwhile, 22 percent said the number of employees remained the same, and 18 percent said this number had decreased.

These results were virtually identical to those obtained by Antal when it conducted the same survey last year.

Demand for workers has nearly returned to pre-crisis levels, and Antal's survey found that as the economy stabilizes, salary expectations are rising. Nonetheless, it's still an employers' market in most sectors.

"Despite the fact that the market has almost recovered from the recession in 2008, the tone is still set by employers," said Margarita Kesova, senior PR manager of Antal Russia.

Hiring in Heavy Industry, Finance

Russian companies working in metallurgy and oil and gas are among the businesses most actively seeking specialists, Kaliakina said.

"There is currently a surge of interest from Russian steel companies in foreign markets, especially in North Africa," she said. "The offices of these companies in other countries need specialists, Russians preferably, who have a good level of English and other foreign languages."

Another area with a high number of vacancies is finance and accounting.

"We are seeing steady growth and a slight uptick in vacancies from banks and investment companies," said Maria Safronova, a senior recruitment consultant at Flex. She estimated that Flex has seen about a 5 percent increase in such vacancies this year.

Headhunters receive the greatest number of placement requests in this industry for financial controllers and financial analysts, recruiters said.

"Within the labor market, the number of finance professionals in the first half of 2012 did not change significantly compared with the previous year," Kesova of Antal said.

Demand for accountants has also increased, especially at manufacturing companies, according to Kesova. To be competitive, candidates for these positions should also be knowledgeable in taxation accounting, she said.

As in previous years, recruiters are seeing the most vacancies overall in?sales.

"Today, sales specialists of all levels remain the most in demand — managers, specialists and department directors," said Ancor recruitment department director Lora Buromskaya.

Managers Wanted

One of the biggest trends in the labor market is an overall lack of professionals, said Mikhail Germerschausen, managing director of Antal Russia.

"Companies face a shortage of suitable candidates in almost all professional spheres," Germerschausen said. "It should be noted that many employers are now becoming proactive in shaping a civilized and professional market."

The shortage of professional candidates with essential skills and experience includes engineering and technical specialists in such spheres as fast-moving consumer goods, fuel and energy, chemicals and automobile production, according to Ancor.

"There's also a deficit in the high-tech sector, in programmers, IT developers, project directors for IT solutions and many others," Buromskaya said.

Employers quoted in the Antal survey seconded the difficulty of finding technical specialists.

"In all regions where companies operate, we face difficulties in finding technical experts," sadi Irina Nemirovskaya, human resources director at ThyssenKrupp Elevator.

In addition, employers in Russia face a challenge finding top-level managers, the Antal survey concluded. Almost all employers surveyed referred to a shortage of high-profile professionals, it reported. Safronova of Flex said management spots top her list of vacancies companies most often want to fill.

The management problem faces all sectors of the economy and extends beyond just executive positions, according to recruiters at Ancor.

"Today there's a huge lack of managers on all levels, from middle to top managers," Buromskaya said.  

Although hiring is steady, most employers in Russia do not expect rapid growth in the market over the next year, Antal found in its survey.

Some employers are cautious about taking on staff due to economic uncertainty in the eurozone, Kaliakina said.

"Companies have a budget, and employers are trying to save. They are looking to recruitment agencies only in the event that they have a position for which it is difficult to find candidates," such as?unique experts or top managers, she said.

Nonetheless, the job market is in healthy shape compared with European ones, and many Westerners working here want to stay, Kaliakina said.

"We are noticing an influx of applications from foreign professionals, senior and mid-level managers who have worked for several years in the Russian offices of international companies who wish to extend their stay in Russia and find a job here because of the crisis in the European markets," she said.    

(Alec Luhn contributed to this report.)