One of the things which Western visitors to Russia find most shocking on their first visit, is that so many of the people they meet are highly educated in one area and yet working in another, unrelated one. Be their taxi-driver a nuclear physicist or their chambermaid an interpreter, globetrotters often find all their prior beliefs in social hierarchy turned upside-down in post-Soviet Russia. At first they may even find themselves wondering how one person should relate to another in such a society.
I was one such confused visitor to St. Petersburg in 1996, where I found out that my landlady, who wore tights with holes in them, was a doctor and then, later in Moscow, when I realized that my new landlady, a canteen-lady, was actually an engineer by education. I am not an advocate of a linear career, but surely the later example is a waste of training and knowledge.
But that’s enough of what I think of such alarming juxtapositions between education and career. Read this week’s Leader to find out what Russians — from academics and recruitment experts to people on the street — think about the use to which human resources are put to in their country.