BRICS Future Skills Camp: a platform for constructive international interaction in the development of promising skills

A practice-oriented training session in 4 skills: City Farming, Agricultural Biotechnology, Digital Farming, and Enterprise Information Systems Security, has just come to a conclusion. The session is the part of the BRICS Future Skills Challenge, an international skills competition.

The training process was guided by the Russian hosts and had several key venues in Belgorod, Moscow, and Krasnoyarsk. Participants and experts from 9 BRICS+ countries (Bangladesh, Belarus, India, China, Ghana, Malaysia, Nigeria, Russia, and South Africa) attended intensive education courses and practical classes and completed various tasks at distributed sites in their countries.

"The BRICS countries are currently working on groundbreaking international standards in technology and education, aimed at nurturing highly qualified professionals that will benefit the countries' economy. We also see that more and more nations express their wish to join the alliance. And in turn, we are ready for open cooperation with all our partners," noted Ms Alina Doskanova, Deputy Director General for International Activities at the Skills Development Agency.

Training in the Digital Farming skill took place at Uyar Agricultural Technical School and was supported by Geoscan Group and Tibermash Baikal LLC.

Agriculture is currently undergoing a digital transformation, which helps with resource conservation and environmental safety and improves time management through modern technologies, which, in turn, reduces the staff employed at large farms, while also creating more opportunities for the development of small farms where one person performs several jobs.

A Digital Farming professional, also known as a digital agrotechnologist, must have a versatile skill set, encompassing those of an agronomist, drone operator, operator of modern agricultural machinery and equipment, mechanic, and IT specialist with practical knowledge of software (including special software) and programming. Classes at the skills camp were aimed at developing these skills.

"BRICS Future Skills Camp opens a whole new level of Digital Farming skill development. International cooperation makes it possible to reshape the vision of the industry, by accounting for global trends in agricultural development. Receiving feedback from international experts allows us to expand this skill and embrace new technologies, as well as offer internships, exchange experience and educational programmes, and form an international expert community," noted Digital Farming skill manager Mr Artur Avetisyan.

Training in the Enterprise Information Systems Security skill was facilitated by the cloud infrastructure of the Belgorod Industrial College. The information security training grounds were set up by skill experts from the Moscow Institute of Electronics and Mathematics (MIEM) under the Higher School of Economics.

The practical aspect of training was based on real-life case studies in network security and countering corporate information leaks. The participants had to review these case studies during their series of training sessions: they got acquainted with the means of protection, leak sources, possible attack vectors, and counteraction measures.

HSE's partners, InfoWatch Group and Infotecs JSC, provided the software for the event.

"BRICS Future Skills Camp sets an example for constructive interaction between countries, based on professional cooperation and respect for skill. As a globally acknowledged world leader in the field of corporate security, Russia is happy to share advanced expertise on advanced information security tools with friendly countries," said skill expert Mr Anton Sergeyev, an advisor at HSE MIEM.

Borisovsky Agricultural Vocational School, in turn, was transformed into training grounds for the Agricultural Biotechnology skill.

"Agricultural Biotechnology is a skill that makes it possible to address the main agricultural challenges: increasing the yield, improving product quality and health properties, and minimising the negative impact on the environment. The classes explore the features and principles of biotechnological methods used in working with plants, as well as the unique features of plant morphology, anatomy, and systematics, the patterns of plant origin and change, the morphological and anatomical structures of plants, and the principles of crop growth and development. At the state-of-the-art laboratories, young specialists can practice the main stages of creating nutrient media and preparing explants for in vitro introduction, along with the basics of clonal micro-propagation of plants," shared skill expert Ms Maria Kachuro.

Training in the final skill, City Farming, was hosted by the Moscow State College of Electromechanics and Information Technologies, with software supplied by Agroaspect LLC. Practical skill classes were co-designed by future employers, meaning that they fully reflect real workplace conditions and tasks.

"City Farming implies using soil-free technology to grow plants in cities. A City Farmer is also a manager, capable of launching production and fine-tuning technological processes, with an understanding of automated control systems, electrical installation and agrochemistry: everything that is needed to make an optimal nutrient solution and further adjust it. And since this is remote training, we can emulate any equipment from any country. The students write a code and send it to us, and we run it on our equipment. Then we look at the results together. This means that students don't even need a fully built venue to work efficiently," said Mr Anton Sheremeyev, City Farming skill manager.

After they have completed their skill training, the next step for the skill camp students will be the BRICS Future Skills Challenge, which the Skills Development Agency will help run in September across the sites in Belgorod Region, the event's key location.

"This is Belgorod Region's first time taking part in international training, and a unique opportunity to promote digital and industrial solutions and integrate them into the learning process," highlights Ms Anastasia Bessonova, acting director of the Centre for Advanced Professional Training and head of the WorldSkills National Team Sponsor movement in Belgorod Region.