Kazakh, Russian Presidents Focus on Human Capital at Forum

Russia and Kazakhstan signed a variety of interstate, intergovernmental, regional and commercial documents at the Nov. 9 Forum of Interregional Cooperation between the two countries in Chelyabinsk, Russia. The presidents of the two nations, Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan and Vladimir Putin of Russia, also signed a joint statement marking the 25th anniversary of mutual diplomatic relations.

Meeting with Putin ahead of the forum, Nazarbayev noted that the countries’ economic interaction was growing, despite difficulties, having expanded 31 percent over the previous nine months. “Our every meeting is a new milestone and a solution to the biggest challenges,” he said.

Heads of Kazakhstan’s and Russia’s regions, ministries and departments, along with business executives and representatives from the science and educational fields, gathered for the forum, which focused on developing human capital.

Addressing the gathering, Nazarbayev said technological advances forcing changes in the labour environment will soon be an important bilateral issue.

“Experts forecast that by 2030, about 60 professions in various spheres will vanish, and more than 180 new ones will emerge. According to the Human Development Report, in the next five years, more than a third of the knowledge and skills necessary for work will change. This is a serious challenge, and its solution should become one of our cooperation’s top priorities,” he said.

Therefore, human capital must be developed in education, health and social protection.

“I propose creating Kazakh-Russian scientific consortia in promising areas, such as biological and information technologies, energy and space, to name a few,” said Nazarbayev. Innovative clusters such as Nazarbayev University, the Innovative Technologies Park, and the Skolkovo Centre in Russia and other research institutions could support these consortia, the President suggested.

Nazarbayev also considered the possibility of opening branches of Russian universities in regions of Kazakhstan with growing educational demands. Beyond education, there are prospects for cooperation in healthcare, healthcare digitisation and common telemedicine networks, he said.

As regional integration allows for further labour migration, the region must be aware of the importance of information and education about labour supply and demand in ensuring social protection. “We need to work out the mechanism of creating a single integrated Eurasian electronic labour exchange,” he said.

Nazarbayev also touched on the less-discussed topic of tourism, which he said had not been addressed at an interregional forum. He proposed the development of tourism between Russia and Kazakhstan as the topic for the next forum, and suggested it be held in Petropavl, Kazakhstan, in 2018.

Putin noted the strategic partnership between the neighbouring nations, and said cooperation was developing well across the board.

“About 400 agreements on cooperation already exist between the regions of Russia and Kazakhstan … A comprehensive programme of Russian-Kazakh interregional cooperation for 2018-2023 has been prepared ahead of the forum. The document is aimed at enhancing the regions’ interaction even more. Priority will be given to trade, economic and investment cooperation,” he said.

It is business initiatives in the regions of Russia and Kazakhstan that are driving trade growth, Putin said, reporting that deliveries of goods and services reached $11 billion in the first nine months of the year, a 30-percent increase compared to the same period last year.

“The accumulated Russian investments in Kazakhstan exceed $10.8 billion, and Kazakhstan’s investment in Russia reached $3 billion,” he said. “We must not stop here. That is why we instructed our governments and the intergovernmental commission to take additional measures to remove barriers to the movement of goods, capital and labour.”

Putin also emphasised Kazakhstan’s contribution to the settlement of the Syrian conflict through the Astana Process.

“Largely thanks to the Astana talks, there was an opportunity to find an early resolution to the Syrian crisis and for Syrians to reach agreements on launching a political settlement process,” he said.