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5 May, 2010 06:33

Russia looks to lure expat specialists

Russia is still struggling to attract workers from overseas. Research by headhunting association, The Network, puts Russia in 32nd place out of 35 countries which are popular with international expatriates.

Rupert Godman, Bely Rast Logistics General Director, came to Russia on a one-year contract to work for a family friend's telecom company. He picked Russia after visiting on holiday.

“I was going to stay one year, but I liked it so much at the end of my contract I decided to stay."

That stay has so far lasted for eight years, and Rupert is not going to leave anytime soon.

“I think for us, Europeans, it's a very exotic, and exiting, and challenging novel place to live, and not too far from Europe.”

However, Rupert's case is not a typical story for foreigners seeking to work abroad.
According to research by the Network and HeadHunter, only 7% of foreign employees who inquire, end up working here.

The Finnish are most keen to work in Russia – representing about 36% of foreign specialists questioned, the next are the Baltic nations and the Ukrainians. And only around 10% are Europeans and Canadians.

Foreign specialists usually limit their Russian career to 3 or 4 years. Then they leave.

“There are many many exciting opportunities here. For me I think earning more than career opportunities [are more important]."

Rupert is one of the 70% that are attracted by high incomes in Russia, compared with 58% who say they came for the career prospects. On average, expatriates can earn 40% more than in the same positions in other countries – at least that was the case. Vice President of Russia's Manpower, Felix Kugel, says, the global financial crisis put a cap on salaries.

“The moneys that were so freely distributed in pre-crisis Russia started to be a lot tighter, and so the packages that a lot of companies were offering to expats coming to work to Russia did change.”

And like a fading beauty, the peak of Russia's attractiveness is almost two decades in the past.

“Russia was at some point extremely attractive because of the time of change that was coming about in the Russian Federation – so to speak Renaissance of Russia. Soviet times were crumpling, things were changing fast, a lot of people wanted to be a part of the change.”

Even if it is not the best time to make the move, researchers say that most job seekers at least fulfill their career ambitions in Russia.