One Russian entrepreneur is single-handedly changing the situation in the Russian vocational training system.
The need to intensify education development in Russia has been discussed for a long time by many leading officials. However, the problems of the system are apparent and complex, being engrained from the beginning in pre-schools, all the way up to universities and colleges.
There is a gap between the needs of the labor market and the product in the form of graduates, which is released to the market. University and college graduates simply do not have the knowledge and competencies potential employers expect from them.
It cannot be said that nothing is being done through the state; on the contrary, the problem has been prioritized. One of the national projects is devoted to it, within the framework of which 16 key directions are realized at once. Among them are the construction of new buildings of educational institutions, the development of additional education, and the popularization of working professions.
For five years, the government has been running a dedicated state program, the main objective of which is, no less than nothing else, to bring Russia into the top 10 countries in the world regarding quality education, with funding being allocated accordingly. However, so far, we can testify that the state alone has not been able to improve the situation radically. It is clear to see that the measures of state support for the education sector have been stalled; Russian business is not involved in this task.
Knowing the dirgisme bias of the highest levels of government in the country, we could assume that this involvement was not entirely voluntary, but objective data indicating that, at least in large part of cases, the initiative comes from below the entrepreneurs themselves.
|Ranking of countries in the world according to the Education Level Index*United Nations Development Programme:Education Index 2020.
|* The index measures a country’s achievements in terms of the educational attainment of its population on two leading indicators:Adult Literacy Index (2/3 weight).The Index of the aggregate share of students receiving primary, secondary, and higher education (1/3 weight).
Lyceum As a Gift to the City
This is precisely what is happening in the case of the St. Petersburg investment company Euroinvest. Not so long ago, its director, Andrey Berezin, astonished experts and the public with the announcement that the company would undertake the construction of a principally new educational establishment.
Euroinvest Holding has been engaged in construction projects for quite a long time. The significant capital of its owners was formed precisely in the development sector, but that is the only proximity of the company to the declared project; until now, the vectors of its interest lay in other areas. So what is the problem Berezin has set for his employees, and why does it even appear on the agenda?
This is in referral to the construction of the Governor’s Lyceum in St. Petersburg, focused on the education of gifted children. Apparently, its profile will relate to physics, mathematics, and the natural sciences. This assumption is supported by the decisions made by Euroinvest on selecting teaching staff. It is known that the core of the teaching staff will consist of teachers with work experience in St. Petersburg physics and mathematics boarding school №45. The holding will assume payment of salaries to employees, intending to pay above the market.
Berezin explained his position on teachers’ pay in an interview during this year’s summer: “We will pay for the design and support the team of teachers who will come to work there when the school is ready. Although it must be a state educational institution, we are ready to sponsor it. Why do I focus on the teaching staff? In the Soviet Union, for example, a professor’s salary was comparable to that of the deputy director of a large industrial enterprise. And what difference would we see if we compared their salaries today? Colossal!”
The project of the educational complex, which is being created at the company’s initiative, is exceedingly noteworthy. It is first worth mentioning the chosen place for its location: a picturesque lakeside in one of the residential districts of the Northern capital of Russia. The lot is not tiny, and it’s clear why due to the plans to put several educational buildings on it. In addition, there will be premises for scientific and artistic activities, along with a sports complex.
The campus will also be equipped with living quarters, as it is planned to educate children in the academy in a boarding mode living at least on weekdays. Berezin’s personal life experience has appeared through the changes; as a child, he studied in such boarding-type school No239 in St.-Petersburg, specializing in mathematics.
The description of such serious investments may prompt conclusions that Berezin’s idea is either a rich man’s whim or a hidden push from the authorities on the principle if you want to work without obstacles, invest in education.
Both of these assumptions are ultimately shattered when studying the actions of Euroinvest, which preceded the announcement of the beginning of the construction of the school. The fact is that the company has been active in the educational sector of St. Petersburg and the Northwest region of the country as a whole for many years.
In the beginning, this work was mainly carried out through cooperation with partner organizations. Berezina Holding cooperated and still works with the Leonhard Euler International Charitable Foundation for Mathematics, which helps organize educational events. Together with the World Club of St Petersburg under the leadership of the famous cultural figure Mikhail Piotrovsky, the company holds an annual award for the best young scientists, artists, and athletes, Prometheus Star.
His initiatives were soon added to the list, such as a scholarship named after Cosmonaut Georgiy Grechko, which Berezin personally presents to distinguished undergraduate and graduate students of St. Petersburg universities. Berezin personally offered the scholarship to outstanding students and graduate students amongst St. Petersburg universities. At the same time, the holding does not stop cooperating with universities. Almost all of them have concluded agreements allowing Euroinvest to follow the most promising students long before they graduate.
It is also worth highlighting the tradition that has developed in recent years of helping existing educational institutions and not only higher ones. This year, it became known that the holding completely replaced the furniture in one of the gymnasiums in Gatchina city in the Leningrad region. It is essential that the table was not only replaced with new furniture, but the equipment was designed according to the theory of schoolchildren health preservation developed by a famous Russian pedagogue Vladimir Bazarny. According to his approaches, younger schoolchildren should spend most of their time standing or moving at school, with the classroom furniture items supplied to the institution enabling these principles to be fully realized.
It is clear that such a large-scale project like the new academy did not appear suddenly; it was not the fruit of a one-time decision. On the contrary, both Berezin and the entirety of Euroinvest were moving towards it for many years, gradually increasing their involvement.
The Long Road to Innovation
Why did the company, which earned its major capital on housing construction, need to turn to education? The answer to this can be found in the history of Euroinvest.
The holding really began its work with the development projects. It was at the turn of the nineties when the Russian business, together with the majority of the country’s population, was working by the principle that there was no time to live, no time to be alive. At the early stages of his business career, Berezin invested only where he could achieve stable positive results.
A dozen years later, when the accumulated financial cushion no longer force him to think only about improving his strategic stability, the owner of Euroinvest began to return to his roots.
These roots were training at the abovementioned school of physics and mathematics and then at the Leningrad Mechanical Institute named after D.F. Ustinov, widely known as Voenmeh. There the future businessman showed considerable success in learning and science and wrote several interesting articles. Many predicted a scientific career or good prospects in design work. However, the zeitgeist when Berezin graduated turned out to be different; the beginning of the 1990s was marked by the discovery of vast opportunities in business, and the frustrated scientist became carried away by these prospects.
It was this failed life scenario that Berezin began to reproduce about ten years ago. He initiated the acquisition of three industrial enterprises, one after the other, specializing in industrial electronics. These are not just assumptions, but a self-admitted confirmation by Berezin in one of his public speeches.
“I’m just interested in doing this” said Berezin regarding his movement into other fields. “I studied at Voenmeh, then in graduate school, specializing in control engineering systems. So for me, in a way, it was a return to the roots, to my roots. Development is real. As a business, it’s quite a conservative story. But it’s also a tool that can support production and create a comfortable environment. And [industrial] production is a development, a revolution, a mission, a movement forward.”
It is now evident that investments in the scientific and industrial spheres have brought significant results. The production facilities controlled by Euroinvest have localized some promising developments that interest Russia and abroad.
The most notable achievements are in the creation of medical equipment and apparatuses. For example, we are discussing working on a new generation of biochips. The devices, called microfluidic analytical chips, are based on nanotechnologies and are faster computationally than any existing counterparts. The result is the ability to track any biological agents, including viruses, in the human body as effectively as knowingly possible.
The medical device for the radiation treatment of oncological diseases, built under the auspices of Euroinvest, is almost ready to be put into mass production. Its primary operating element is the well-known X-ray tube, but it is integrated with a state-of-the-art robotic system that allows you to irradiate tumors directly during surgery and with extremely high accuracy. For the first time, doctors will be able to target cancerous tissues with both surgical and radiological means simultaneously, which is expected to increase patients’ chances of recovery dramatically.
History and Biography:
Andrey Berezin was born in 1967 in Leningrad. In 1990 he graduated with honors from Leningrad Ustinov Mechanical Institute. In 1990 he graduated from Leningrad Ustinov Mechanical Institute, where he specialized as an engineer in automatic control systems of flying vehicles. After graduation, he enrolled in a postgraduate course at Leningrad Mechanical Institute and started his business activity in parallel.
In 1993 he became one of the co-founders of the North-West Fisheries Company. In 1995, together with Yury Vasilyev, he founded the investment company Euroinvest and became its Chairman of the Board.
Today Euroinvest is a diversified holding company that includes companies and projects from various economic sectors.
One of the directions of Euroinvest work is legal and engineering support for developing land plots and territories in St. Petersburg, the Leningrad region, and other areas.
At the end of 2017, Euroinvest Group created its construction division Euroinvest Development, which is engaged in the construction of housing and other objects, thus forming an entire cycle development business.
A relatively new direction for Euroinvest is the agro-industrial sector. Agrocluster Krasnoye Znamya in the Pskov region specializes in producing grain and fodder for livestock.
In May 2017, the management of the Euroinvest investment company established the Euro Venture fund with an initial amount of € 10 million. Priority areas for investment are innovative developments in the scientific and technical sphere, as well as projects in the creative industry.