The battle to stimulate economies and bring life back to a moribund jobs market across the UK and Europe is a far cry from Brazil’s red hot jobs market. Unemployment keeps falling and has reached a low of 5.5%, impressive in a country where unemployment was consistently in double digits through 2006 and in which high levels of weak schooling and high drop-out levels produce a low quality workforce. Salaries are positively hopping. Construction workers saw average wage raises of 11.79% in 2011.
But it’s at the executive level that the prizes are juiciest. Shortages are particularly acute at the top end of the work pyramid thanks to Brazil’s weak education system and insufficiency of places. The combination of a huge and generalised logistics upgrade, covering everything from railways, roads, ports, sanitation and water and energy, together with the much-delayed and now urgent works for the World Cup (2014) and Olympics (2016) has led to an explosion of demand for professionals across Brazil. Engineers and IT personnel are at a particular premium. Tales of unseemly fights and ruses by corporate executives to get their hands on graduates before they discover their true worth are emerging.
The numbers are mind boggling. According to Claudia Safatle of Valor, Brazil needs 350,000 engineers for the next three years. Universities will produce a fraction of that at just 60,000. It’s a similar story in IT where companies will be fighting over the 34,000-35,000 graduates to fill an estimated 80,000 roles.
It’s even prompting Brazil to consider, at least temporarily, loosening restrictions on foreign workers with talk of a new short-term, probably five-year, work visa. This could mark a new wave of post-war European immigration to Brazil. Welcome to the huddled masses.