In Russia, some students called to replace workers mobilized in the military

In Russia, some students have started working in companies to temporarily replace workers who left their positions because they were mobilized for the war in Ukraine.

University students in Russia

On October 19, Sergei Tsivilev, the governor of Kemerovo Oblast, wrote on his Telegram channel that the region had launched a “student labor mobilization program” to take on job duties of workers mobilized in the military. He justified that students “will receive paid practice in their field and help Kemerovo enterprises maintain production rates.” The governor had earlier announced the start of this “regional labor migration program” on October 9 at a forum on the coal industry.

According to the statement of the ministry of Education of Kemerovo, only students in schools and universities in their final year of studies are concerned by the mobilization. It added that the Advanced Professional Training Center, a coordinator between education and companies, would “select suitable candidates and conduct additional training for them.” Companies in the coal industry, in woodworking, construction companies already submitted applications, for instance. So far, 161 companies applied for help from students, according to Izvestia.

The Russian newspaper reported on October 27 that the administrations of the Kaluga, Kurgan, Kursk, Leningrad, Chelyabinsk Oblasts and the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug are considering the possibility of bringing students from technical schools to fill up vacant positions due to the military mobilization for the war in Ukraine. Leningrad and Kursk regions are reportedly ready to launch a student mobilization program.

But the administration of the Leningrad Oblast on Telegram nuanced that “labor mobilization is not planned in the Leningrad region.” It added that “the region is ready to consider the similar experience of colleagues from other [administrations], but there is no need for this at the moment.”

Izvestia reports mobilization in Kemerovo is voluntary and that students are not all averse to the mobilization, motivated by the possibility of earning a salary and getting on-field practice. Students interviewed were from vocational schools.

After Russian President Vladimir Putin called upon the mobilization of 300,000 civilians to join the military on September 21, there has been some confusion about whether students would be mobilized.

Only higher education students were not part of the military mobilization. The Russian president then said there was a delay in the mobilization of postgraduate students. A decree was signed in early October by Mr. Putin to allow the deferment of students in professional or higher education. According to the public information portal Объясняем, on October 11, students enrolled in secondary vocational schools or in higher education who haven’t repeated the year are not subject to mobilization.

Students are however allowed to take an academic leave and join the military to participate in the war in Ukraine.

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