ITS TASK IS TO DEVELOP THE SYSTEM OF PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS ON THE FINANCIAL MARKET OF RUSSIA. VLADIMIR MIRONOV, THE OBSERVER OF THE PORTAL FINVERSIA.RU. TALKED TO DIANA MASHTAKEEVA, THE GENERAL DIRECTOR OF THE COUNCIL FOR PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATION DEVELOPMENT.
- We know that finance is a multi-sectoral segment involving a lot of people. And it is well known that starting from July 1, 2019 old qualification certificates of financial market specialists will become invalid. Does it mean that a moment is coming when all people employed in financial sector will have to take qualification exams again to confirm their competency?
– Yes, it does. In the Article 11 of the Federal Law “On the independent qualification assessment” the transition period is regimented. From July, 2019 in Russia other systems of assessment will become invalid – both non-mandatory and those within sectoral mandatory systems of qualifications. For example, financial market. The access to vacancies here is regimented within the attestation of the Central Bank of Russia. CPQD and CBR have signed an agreement on smooth transition to the institute of the independent qualification assessment.
What will this institute look like in the end? There are still a lot of questions under discussion with the regulator according to an action plan. But in general the system is as follows. To fill a vacancy, a candidate must meet criteria of a qualification which is already specified in a professional standard. It means that the specialists should now think about a necessary education level and job experience – these parameters are also specified in the professional standard.
In order to switch to the system of independent qualification assessment the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation has establishes an institute of Qualification assessment centers (QACs). QACs are commercial structures which will independently evaluate qualifications according to the rules approved at the governmental level. The task of the professional qualification councils is to work out criteria of a professional standard and a qualification. On the platforms of QACs a relevant qualification will be conferred. Of course we recommend arranging the qualification exams in advance.
– Who should take care about it? The people themselves? Or the employers?
– There are two variants. And both of them are clearly specified in regulatory documents. A candidate can go through the qualification assessment himself at his own expense. Or an employer arranges the attestation of its personnel at the expense of a company. Thus a candidate should apply for qualification exam to his HR department and discuss the ways he can achieve the level of qualification which is specified in the professional standard of his position.
- It turns out that many people must pass these exams within just six months. What will happen after July 1 to those who don’t do it in time?
– The system is very strict. There will be inspections on the territory of an employer. He is the one who is responsible for the qualification of a worker in his company. The moratorium on the relevant inspections valid until recently, has been removed; the inspections are already being carried out in different regions. Moreover there are first cases of fines for the workers lacking qualification certificates.
So our advice is pretty decisive: if you are a working specialist and want to stay in a company you should discuss with your HR how to achieve the qualification according to new rules. And another variant is if you are looking for a job, then you are the one who is responsible. It is already common practice when candidates confirm their qualification in QACs themselves.
– How many people employed in the financial market have passed these exams so far?
– Up to now a bit more than a thousand people have passed the qualification assessment. Is it a little or a lot? Well for the market on the whole it is not so much. At the same time we started to incorporate the QACs, so to say on a nationwide basis, only in May, 2018. However even in the Summer, a holiday period, and in the Autumn we saw people actively taking exams.
– Do you fear a mess on the market in case thousands of experts don’t take the exams in time?
– I don’t. We have offered a relatively loyal transition period. We have accorded with CBR, Rosfinmonitoring and other specific federal legislative bodies that the current certificates will be valid for some time. But we can’t fully influence the situation since we are not a controlling body. It is the Labor Inspection. We will carry out negotiations closer to July, 2019 if we see that the market is facing as you say a mess. We will try to coordinate with the Labor Inspection some delays of inspections.
It is a crucial task for us – to arrange a smooth switch to a new system. Obviously the current situation is that a fullfledged infrastructure for the institute of independent qualification assessment on a nationwide scale is not prepared yet. Some territories don’t have QACs, many employers don’t have budgets for the process. Although one should mention that the Tax Code implies tax preferences. Both the employer and the employee can charge the expenses to the income tax refund.
– Does it concern only state-owned companies for now?
– Not really. There are three stages of a transition period. The first one as we have already discussed will start on July 1, 2019 when all other attestation systems will become invalid. In January, 2020 we offer a transition to the system of independent qualification assessment to the state-owned companies and corporations with public ownership. We offer it to all such companies, not only to mandatory attestations and mandatory access. It means that even the qualifications of drivers and cameramen at All-Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company will have to be brought into conformity with criteria of professional standards. It concerns professions for which there are such standards. And it should be done throughout all positions by January, 2020.
And the third stage of transition period has no time limits yet. It is being discusses. It implies a total refusal from managers, specialists and workforce qualification reference book and from the Unified rating and skills guide for jobs and occupations of manual workers and their replacement with the criteria of professional standards. Today these books are an alternative accounting method in HR policy. Once they are invalid all HR workers in all companies will have to use only the criteria of professional standards. The first paragraph in the abovementioned books which we have offered to remove relates to the accounting.
– You have already said about the number of people who have passed the exams. What other results of CPQD can be marked for now?
– This year was full of events. We have advanced from the stage of infrastructure formation for the system of independent qualification assessment to the stage of practice. We developed the infrastructure taking into account the requirements for people with disabilities. We also developed international cooperation. In particular we achieved some results with the EAEU member-states in the conjunction of qualification criteria. Besides we became the first sectoral council on professional qualifications to sign a large-scale international agreement within the framework of the system of independent qualification assessment. Our partners now are two main attestation systems on the territory of the Great Britain: CIMA –The Chartered Institute of Management
Accountants and Institute of Certified Bookkeepers, Russian office of ICB-Global. It implies that not only the Russian part shall consider the international qualification criteria in its national system, but our national qualification certificates will be recognized in Britain as valid to fill a position.
– What professions are concerned?
– Accounting and internal audit. It was the first block we worked on last year.
Now back to the results. This year the Entry Level Qualification was adopted. We said recently that one of the main tasks in 2018 was to shape the Entry Level Qualification without high requirements to work experience and skills for the graduates, students and people of other professions. It’s a simple mechanism to enter a profession. By the way in Britain specialists have the competence level equal to our 9-grade students. All the rest is achieved while working during the life.
Another large project was executed with VCIOM and the National Agency for Qualification Development. We have worked out a method for labor market monitoring. We have managed to computerize all processes and now we are collecting information from HR departments and organizations about the list of qualifications demanded on the market. It is also an important block of our work. The analysis of this data shows which qualifications are demanded and which ones should be abolished or developed. We anticipate the monitoring results to become the main indicator for us during the allocation of state-financed openings in the institutes in different regions.
Another important task solved is the development of the method of public accreditation of education programs (PAEP). We have agreed with the Federal Service for Supervision in Education and Science (Rosobrnadzor) to sign an agreement on criteria recognition while conducting the state accreditation and PAEP. This will allow us to consider the results of state accreditation in our procedures and vice versa the state accreditation will consider our results. Besides we have agreed to carry out the state accreditation together starting from 2019. It is a big step in the development of the institute of independent qualification assessment in general, and in particular it eliminates overlapping.
Regarding PAEP we have another positive result. We have completed an agreement with the Agency for Quality Assurance in Higher Education and Career Development (AKKORK) which represents international standards on the territory of Russia corresponding to the principles of Bologna process. These principles imply the harmonization of the higher education systems of the European countries with the aim to create a common European space of higher education. For example we harmonize the methods of international accreditation agencies on the standards. It means that using our accreditation the education sector will get also the international accreditation, which directly influences the world ratings and public accreditation.
We have finally enlarged the number of experts all through the territory of Russia. Today the number is almost enough to launch the independent qualification assessment on a nationwide scale.
We have also completed the establishment of the internal audit services for CPQD. Now there are offices in the Russian regions which monitor and control the QACs. We have discussed with the federal executive bodies that they will assign personnel to these offices to join the internal audit service. In particular they will deal with QACs allowances and attestation procedure.
– You have said that the infrastructure for the independent qualification assessment has not been completed yet and is still being shaped. Is there a possibility for unfair, “commercialized” shell QACs at this stage which will attract people?
– Do you mean the sales of qualification certificates? Let’s face it! In order to minimize this opportunity we move really slowly. Of course Russia is a very big country and it’s quite difficult to monitor and control QACs from Moscow.
As for commercialization, all QACs work on a commercial basis. It is stipulated by the law and corresponds with the principle of independence provided for by payable procedures. A relevant instrument was included in the Federal Law “On independent qualification assessment”. But at the same time we realize that without monitoring and control it will be impossible to ensure adequate level of good faith, to guarantee the quality of this instrument both to the specialists and to employers.
The law strictly specifies the procedures of the professional exam. They are also specified at the level of the Russia’s government regulations. All processes and procedures are strictly regimented. From our side we have also worked out the system of monitoring very thoroughly. As I have already mentioned there will be permanent territorial control services. Besides, the procedure implies video recording of the exam. Moreover there will be an appeal commission where any candidate and employer have the right to file a complaint. This is something the mandatory attestation of the mega-regulator was lacking.
– Two small practical questions. First, how not to fall into a trap of those QACs without an adequate level of good faith? How to identify the “fair” QAC? And second, how much does the qualification assessment cost for a candidate?
– All QACs were thoroughly selected. There are correspondent registers of the Ministry of Labor of Russia. All information is public and can be found on the websites of the Ministry and CPQD and connected resources of QACs. All the information about the authorized QACs, the accredited experts of these QACs (they also have their qualification level and corresponding status fixed in the national register) – all this can be found in the official information resources, which is an important provision of the law.
As for the price there is a calculation method. Its basis was suggested by the National Agency for Qualification Development. Today the minimum price of a professional exam is 7.5 thousand Rubles, the average is 10 thousand Rubles.
There is a single tariff policy approved at the level of CPQD and specialized commissions. The price of every professional exam is evaluated in accordance with the approved method and with regards to the level and complexity of the qualification. In general the calculation method is focused on the payment to experts who take part in the assessment procedure. So the higher the qualification, the higher the experts’ fee and the price of the exam are.
I would like to mention though that we are working now on reducing the price of the exams. For example on November 15 it was decided to give a discount to people with disabilities, students and elderly people. The discount will be about 30%. Besides in Russia there is a resolution on tariff regulation and now we are working on a reginal index which would allow to change the price of the professional exam depending on the location.
– What can you say about the plans of CPQD in 2019, what is on the agenda?
– The agenda is the same: to update the approved qualifications, to enlarge the storage of assessment means and the key task – to ensure the infrastructure and security of the professional exam procedure. We are taking sustained efforts to create an automated system for CPQD to work “digitally” with all counterparts, from the candidates to the education sector. On a nationwide scale the system is anticipated in February 2019. Its first participants will be QACs and CPQD services. This system will storage the results of professional exams, information about updated assessment means, appeals, etc.
And we will also proceed with the improvement of the transition period procedures. We systematically meet with the representatives of the candidates market, discuss the smooth switch of the current attestation system to the independent qualification assessment. Everyone will be engaged, we don’t set a task to create a totally new instrument. Of course we aspire to automate the process but the main condition is to preserve the whole value of the subject.
At the same time in many cases the procedure becomes more complicated because the current attestation doesn’t imply any practical part. While one of the main goals of the reform and the switch to the independent qualification assessment is to make it more comprehensive and to have the possibilities to confirm not only academic knowledge of a specialist but his practical skills as well. The process automation is supposed to include into the exam procedure some program products applied by industries. For example, an accountant who wants to confirm qualification in payroll calculation will have to show his skills in the program 1С.