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Opportunities & Obstacles: A Look at Brazil’s Job Market for Locals and Expats

In a global economic context in which traditionally sound markets are flailing, the economies of emerging nations are beginning to surface as locales of reprieve. Brazil, undoubtedly, has been at the lead of the pack in this. Though its economy is by no means immune to the goings on of international markets, it has proven quite resilient overall.

With the World Cup and Olympic Games on the horizon, and considering that the country is poised to become the third-strongest IT market by 2022, there is no doubt that various sectors and industries will experience unprecedented growth over the decade to come. The Brazilian government will play an important role in this as well, having announced plans to dedicate US$250,000 to the IT sector as well as capital to be invested in infrastructure development across various other industries.

All of this, of course, will go hand-in-hand with the creation of thousands of new jobs in the Brazilian market. This news isn’t just significant for Brazilian professionals, however, as the country is looking to fill positions with individuals from all over the world.

Unfilled Positions Abound

A recent report revealed a growing problem in Brazil’s job market: a lack of skilled professionals needed to fill the positions available.

The issue runs across various industries, from construction to operations and IT. Even Google, which was named the number one place to work in Brazil in 2011, has struggled to identify appropriate and qualified candidates out of its current pool of applicants. Today, there are 36 openings advertised at Google São Paulo alone.

Given this, a number of businesses have no choice but to seek qualified talent abroad, a task that is much easier said than done.

Importing Talent from Abroad

Visa policies in Brazil are extremely strict – something that deters job-seekers and businesses alike. Companies are required to prove that they have searched for and been unable to find Brazilian professionals to fill a position. Moreover, companies that hire foreigners must initiate a training program for Brazilians for their eventual replacement. All of these requirements come on top of endless amounts of paperwork.

Given these obstacles, it comes as no surprise that foreigners make up just 0.3% of Brazil’s workforce today. And though the number of work permits emitted by the Brazilian government increased 25% from 2010 to 2011, the nation still has a long way to go.

In light of this situation, the Brazilian government has decided to take specific measures to facilitate the hiring of international talent. Last month, strategic initiative leader Ricardo Paes de Barros announced the creation of a task force to examine the foreign hiring situation in Brazil and draft a proposal by mid-2013. With that, he expressed hopes to raise percentage of foreign employees in Brazil to 2-3% of the country’s workforce, essentially aiming to increase the current figure tenfold.

A Local Perspective

Nevertheless, many insist that the country must rely on its own talent to fuel its growing economy and concentrate on education instead. In July of last year, Brazil launched Science Without Borders, an initiative to dole out 100,000 study abroad scholarships to the country’s best and brightest. Most recently, United States Commerce Undersecretary Francisco Sanchez announced plans to lead officials from 66 U.S. and Brazilian colleges in exploring the options of educational exchange.

In the backdrop of all of these efforts is one important truth: Brazil’s economy and job market are not fool-proof. In July, the Brazilian Labor Ministry revealed slowed job creation in the month of June. The country’s jobless rate remains solid below 6%; however, many question whether its strong service sector is leading to false security in terms of employment rates.

Continued Commitment

Though Brazil has experienced some economic slowdown as of late, it remains one of the most promising economies in the world today. As the economic crisis continues in Europe and the U.S., it is likely that professionals from the outside will continue to turn their attention to the opportunities available in Brazil.

Despite some unknown factors and obstacles, it is likely that Brazil will continue to represent a big employment opportunity with the creation of jobs for locals and foreigners alike. And with stimulus plans, funding, legal reworking and increased global participation, Brazil’s leaders continue to demonstrate their commitment to the cause.

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