‘We Understand that Europeans and Asian Countries Are Constantly Changing’
In the 2021-2022 academic year, the master's program ‘Business and Politics in Modern Asia’ opens a new online course dedicated to the study and comparative analysis of the Asian and European labour markets. The discipline was developed with the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences. Lecturers and authors of the course – Liudmila Veselova and Natalia Ribberink – told us about the content of the discipline, its importance for students, and their expectations.
— Prof. Veselova, could you tell us how the idea of the course came about?
— We have been cooperating with Prof Ribberink for several years. She was a guest lecturer on our program last year and students were very interested in the course and the opportunity to learn from Natalia's international experience. Therefore, when we received information about the competition for the implementation of a joint online course, we decided that it was a great idea to connect our students and give them a chance to work together and exchange experiences. Given that the discipline focuses on the labour markets in Europe, Russia, and Asia, which are significantly different from each other, it will be useful for students from different countries and with various backgrounds to share their observations and learn about situations in specific regions.
— Prof. Ribberink, how did you become a part of this new discipline?
Prof. Veselova and I have been working together for several years. It started with a research project at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences. My faculty hosted a seminar on the topic of talent management and gender issues in the comparative analysis of Russia, China, and Europe. Since then, we have been working together on various studies in this area. I have also taught at HSE twice: a course on methodology at the 'Business and Politics in Modern Asia' master's programme and on business management in Europe at a bachelor's programme at the Moscow campus. I had the most positive impressions about students, so we responded to the call for applications published by HSE and decided to apply. We were very happy that the initiative was supported.
— What will the course be dedicated to?
— The new course is called 'Labour markets redesign: comparative studies from Europe and Asia' and is dedicated to unpacking the leading trends in the European and Asian labour markets and the changes that have occurred there over the past 30 years. The markets of Europe and Asia are dynamic: for example, in China, the situation changes every 10 years. The programme 'Business and Politics in Modern Asia' trains practitioners, and we expect our graduates to either work in Asia or work with Asian partners. Therefore, students must understand the trends and current employment situation: should they look for a job in the East after graduation, or will their career prospects be more successful in Europe?
The course is practice-oriented and will help students gain an understanding of the global labour markets. There is still a belief that if you know any Asian language, you can easily find a job. In practice, even if you know Chinese, Japanese, or Korean, this does not guarantee employment. Trends and requirements of employers and companies are changing, and this course will allow students to learn what is happening, what has changed, and what transformations to expect in the future. We also plan to cover the national characteristics of business in the countries and address the issue of gender inequality. The course includes lectures on the status of women in the labour market. This aspect is important: if you look at the composition of students, women predominate among them, and according to statistics, the percentage of working women in the Russian and Asian labour markets already exceeds 60%. That is, we see that women are becoming the main driving force of the labour force.
— What is unique about the new course and how will it differ from similar ones?
Prof. Ribberink: Before developing the course, we went through the existing curricula and concluded that there were no similar disciplines yet. If they do exist, then the advantage of our course will be in the inclusion of the comparative focus. We will take talent management and human resources management as a basis and implement a comparative analysis of the Asian and European labour markets using the most representative examples. In Asia, they are China, Korea, and India, while in Europe we consider cases of Germany, the Netherlands, and the Scandinavian countries. Perhaps we will expand the focus to some countries in Southern Europe. We will also address the impact of the pandemic on the labour market and consider the new phenomena that have arisen as a result of it. For example, in Europe, the concept of new work is gaining popularity that implies the transition from standard office patterns of a labour organization to new concepts of work outside the office, models of time management, and so on. We will compare the application of these concepts in Asia and Europe, and how they are wide-spreading. The issue of the legal framework reaction to the new reality is also interesting here. Currently, in Europe, amendments to the legislation that regulate working from home even without the pandemic and equate home conditions with the office are made. These are, in my opinion, very interesting processes.
Dr. Veselova: The unique features of the course also include the presence of separate experts specialising in the East and Europe. We will be able to share with students the knowledge that we possess to the greatest extent. Besides, the course will be delivered in English and unite students of the two universities. Also, we should not forget about the presence of foreign students at our programmes, and altogether it will be a wonderful experience to get acquainted with different education systems and exchange ideas. From the prospect of teaching, the discipline will combine the methods of both the German and Russian schools, which is another pleasant addition to the other course's features.
— What skills and knowledge will students acquire at the end of the course?
Prof. Ribberink: First, it is an understanding of how labour markets function in general and comparative perspectives, as well as the knowledge of global trends that need to be taken into account when looking for a job and planning a career. Students are potential participants in the labour market, and this course is one of the crucial disciplines for university graduates because it will provide them with the ability to navigate in the global labour market: where and what vacancies are available, what trends in certain countries to consider, how to respond to changes, and what skills are in demand among employers. Secondly, the course will be useful in terms of a variety of methodological approaches. We plan to engage students in group projects, presentations, videos, the literature reviews – the formats will depend on our technical capabilities. But the variety of formats will prepare students for what awaits them in their professional careers.
— Prof. Ribberink, you have teaching experience at both Russian and German universities. What experience can students and teachers from HSE and Hamburg University of Applied Science exchange among each other?
— I think that from the Hamburg experience, it will be useful to pass the practice of closer contact with the business to our Russian colleagues. We work quite closely with companies with headquarters in Hamburg, as well as with global corporations. All research projects and interactions with companies are practical. We will try to ensure the implementation of these practices within the framework of the discipline. From the Russian experience and its utility value in Europe, there is a wide range of different theoretical and methodological concepts and approaches. The European approach is very pragmatic and sometimes lacks the breadth of thinking in terms of fundamental knowledge. I think that this combination will be very interesting and useful for students and teachers of both universities. - In your opinion, what are possible prospects for such type of courses?
Dr. Veselova: In my opinion, this is a wonderful and promising project. It helps to strengthen our international cooperation. In current circumstances, we lack communication with our colleagues, and online conferences restrict our abilities to exchange experiences and ideas. Luckily, the world is adapting, and new opportunities for interaction are emerging even within digital formats. For example, when we started working on this course, Prof. Ribberink and I decided on publishing an article, and we have already launched questionnaires on the roles of women in the labour markets. We have already collected data on Russia and the European Union, and now we are waiting for the results on China and America. Therefore, it seems to me that such courses allow us to launch mechanisms for additional interaction and help in expanding cooperation between universities.
— What are your expectations of the course?
Prof. Ribberink: I am positive-minded. I would like to see such disciplines and practices move into a systematic nature of the interaction, and that this pilot project is justified and put on a long-term track. Alternatively, we can hope for spin-offs in the form of research and student projects. We have won two more grants for cooperation, and we hope that we will be able to build a long-term and productive cooperation between universities.
Dr. Veselova: I hope that this course will be successful and we will get positive student feedback. I like to believe that if the experience is successful, it will give us a new task to expand cooperation and look for colleagues willing to develop composite courses together. In my opinion, this is a very important element of international cooperation between universities. An international environment is crucial for students: being an important part of learning, it helps them exist in a global student community. Given the HSE's focus on internationalization and digitalization, if the experience of such courses is successful, I am sure that their number will increase significantly next year.