International Competence Centre for Mining-Engineering Education is now officially opened
Among the tasks of the newly established center is developing a unified system of international professional certification of engineers, as well as implementation into production of innovative technologies for the purposes of increasing the efficiency and occupational safety at the enterprises of the mineral resources sector.
The first joint meeting of the Supervisory Board and the Board of Governors of the International Competence Centre for Mining-Engineering Education under the auspices of UNESCO took place on Tuesday, February 19, at the Mining University. The Principal of the University, Vladimir Litvinenko, was elected as a Chairman of the Board of Governors. The Governing Bodies comprise representatives of the executive and legislative branches of the Russian Government, heads of the regions, core businesses (SIBUR, PhosAgro, Russneft) and higher education institutions of Russia, Germany, Austria, Finland and other states, and, of course, UNESCO.
According to Alexander Novak, the Minister of Energy of Russia and also a member of the governing boards of Competence Centre, "Mining University is currently a higher education institution of strategic importance, essentially as related to training raw materials engineers. It is quite clear that global energy consumption is set to grow, which means that environmental sustainability should be one of our key priorities. On other side, if we want to extract resources in an ecologically friendly way, we need to ensure that we have qualified workers, who can master advanced technologies and at the same are able to constantly improve their own level of competence."
It is a global problem that many fuel and energy enterprises lack qualified engineers. As a result, development of national economies is affected, but, more importantly, many people lose their lives in industrial accidents. Large-scale environmental pollution is also a huge problem.
As Vladimir Litvinenko, the Principal of Saint-Petersburg Mining University, noted, "Developing the mineral resources sector is essential for sustainable economic growth of any state. Therefore, with each year extracting and processing enterprises introduce more complicated and advanced technologies. Consequently, a constant improvement in the workforce quality is required, and the shortage of qualified engineers is one of the factors constraining economic growth. The primary objective of the Competence Centre for Mining-Engineering Education under the auspices of UNESCO is to establish a new training system that would be highly demanded on the global scale and at the same time capable of meeting the challenges of new era."
Vladimir Litvinenko was unanimously elected a Chairman of the Board of Governors, which is hardly surprising, for the Head of the Mining University was the prime mover behind the decision to open the Competence Centre. Mining University was also chosen by UNESCO as a primary venue of the Center. Other laboratories that are also a part of the International Competence Center will be opened in China, Austria, Germany, Belarus, or in the regions of Russia – Yugra and a few others.
Mining University has started working towards opening the Center a few years ago. This October, an agreement was signed between the Mining University and the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) – the oldest and one of the most prestigious association of engineers in Western Europe. Now Russian specialists from the Competence Center have the right to conduct examinations and have the authority to accredit employees of mineral companies. After accreditation, if the exam was passed, an engineer will receive a certificate, which is recognized globally. The value of such certificate is much higher than the value of diploma of higher education, since the name of its owner is entered in the unified global register of engineers. And this, in turn, provides a huge competitive advantage in the labor market of any state.
A number of other agreements were also signed at the joint meeting of the Supervisory Board and the Board of Governors of the Competence Center. For instance, Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Compatriots Living Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation (Rossotrudnichestvo) and Saint-Petersburg Mining University signed an agreement on joint cooperation. Another agreement on launching joint Master’s Degree programs was signed by the Principals of Saint-Petersburg Mining University, Freiberg University of Mining and Technology and the University of Leoben.
Wilfried Eichlseder, The Principal of the University of Leoben, explained his decision on joining the Board of Governors with these words,"With each year, more and more raw materials are consumed globally. It is forecasted that the demand will continue to grow, at least until 2030. Therefore, we all need to think together how to reduce the burden on the environment and increase production efficiency. Russia is a very strong partner and we are interested in cooperation in different fields, such as unification of study curricula or joint scientific research. Another important issue is the technology transfer. We need to work with companies and enterprises to innovate in production. International Competence Center seems to be a great platform that would allow us to move in this direction.
At the meeting, the Governor of Ugra Natalya Komarova was awarded with a certificate of approval of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug as a core region in the Competence Center for all the matters related to oil and gas engineering.
After the signing ceremony, Natalya Komarova noted, "Those challenges, which are faced by the Competence Centre, are more than relevant to our administrative region, in particular, continuity of education or unification of curricula of technical universities. We need to structure our work in such a way that both young people, who have just graduated from the university, and accomplished specialists would be in demand in the workplace. Therefore, we were ready to accept the proposal to become a core region in the Competence Center as related to oil and gas engineering. Moreover, I must admit that we already feel ourselves a part of the Center."