Aid to young families called answer to Russia's shrinking labor force

If current demographic and socio-political trends persist, the Russian workforce will be reduced from 67 million to 50 million by the year 2020. Aleksandr Pochinok, minister of Labor and Social Development of the Russian Federation, offered the figure Tuesday during a conference on the 'Social Context of a Market Economy' held at Moscow State Social University.

'To ensure the survival of the country, there must be a sharp increase in manpower over the next few years,' the minister said. 'We have already run into the problem of the quality of the workforce. To find a properly qualified industrial worker in Podolsk or Izhevsk today is no easy matter, and it is going to get worse.' The solution of this problem, the minister stressed, is not possible without a significant modernization of the system of higher vocational education that is focused on meeting the social and economic needs of society.

As to the drop in the birthrate in Russia, aside from purely economic reasons, Pochinok pointed to the psychological situation in which people have lost faith in the morrow. 'It is the job of government to change this negative psychological climate by developing a program of support for young families and support for housing financing,' the minister said. 'Mortgages alone could give us an additional 110,00 to 120,000 children each year.'

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