Jobs for Foreigners in Brazil: A New Destination for Skilled Migration?
Since its foundation by Portuguese colonists, Brazil, the largest country in Latin America, has experienced an important immigrant flow. Over time, the Brazilian government has influenced this flow by implementing policies that support the needs of the economy. If during the first half of the 20th century governmental policies targeted low-skilled immigrants for work in the agricultural sector, in the last quarter of the century the government aimed to attract highly skilled immigrants to the country. The new trend was marked by the adoption of a new immigration law in 1981, which introduced new processes for visas and work permits and created a number of obstacles for low skilled migration.
Conversely, from the 1980s Brazilians from various economic levels started to emigrate to other countries in search of new economic opportunities and career development. High inflation, low economic growth, and unsuccessful economic policies were some of the main reasons why highly skilled Brazilians preferred to emigrate to countries where their income was significantly higher, despite in many cases a lower skill requirement for the job they ended up doing abroad.
In recent years, due to the euro crisis and a reshaping of the world economy, together with other emerging economies Brazil has been increasingly seen as an attractive destination for those seeking better job opportunities. It is not only educated people from Europe, affected by the tough economic situation, who see Brazil as an option; Brazilian authorities and economists recognize the economy’s need for highly skilled workers and increasingly tend to portray Brazil as “an island of prosperity in the world”.
Despite the rising number of graduates in Brazil, the economy of the country is growing faster and it needs skilled people to sustain its growth. The Federal Public and Labor Ministries of Brazil are developing new policies to attract highly-educated employees to the country. They seek people who can bring skills, knowledge and technology to contribute to the booming process of the economy. Similar to the governmental policies, private investment, infrastructure and business development projects create the need for foreigners with specialized knowledge. Not least in the context of the preparations for the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016, Brazil has declared a talent deficit and has opened different opportunities for professionals in the fields of engineering and business.
As part of the plans to encourage economic growth in Brazil, the government has taken important steps in the field of investment in education and research. Around $2 billion was invested in the Science without Bordersprogram; resulting in around 100,000 Brazilian students gaining the opportunity to study abroad, in addition to the 100 scholarships that are offered each year to students. Moreover, incentives related to postgraduate scholarships for citizens of Latin American countries have been included in the large portfolio of investments made by the government.
As a result of all government policies, business investment and demographic changes, the economy and socio-demographic structure of Brazil will change. Right now the aim is to reduce the level of non-skilled immigrants in order to give priority to those with more specialist skills. However, this situation could easily result in a similar excess of educated people as experienced in many parts of Europe or the USA. Despite well-designed policies, it is a matter of time to determine how the Brazilian job market will develop in the next 10 years. Meanwhile, there are thousands of economists, engineers, IT and business professionals who are contributing to the flow of brains to the South American country, each of them seeking career opportunities and a better quality of life for themselves and their families.
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