Brazil lures youth with IT learning schemes to fill skills gap

In Brazil, various efforts are in play to encourage tech skills

By 2020, 750,000 thousand jobs in the IT sector will be created in Brazil, estimates the Brazilian Association of Information Technology and Communication Companies (Brasscom). This is great news for a country whose economy is forecasted to shrink by 3.8 per cent in 2016, following a similar contraction last year. But an important detail could spoil the party: what if the country doesn’t have enough qualified professionals to occupy these vacancies? Today, 1.3 million people are working in the country’s IT sector and, also according to Brasscom, 50,000 jobs in the country are waiting for the right person.

Aware of this problem, Brazil’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, created in 2012 Brasil Mais TI, an e-learning platform with free IT courses.

“Our main goal is to generate this vocational awakening of young people and to contribute to their entry in the IT sector, a sector that is rapidly growing and it is considered strategic to Brazil,” Ana Beatriz Pires, project manager of Brasil Mais TI, tells me.

The platform offers 30 courses donated by both private and public institutions with over 1,500 hours of training. Most of the courses are in programming but the platform also offers an English course and content in other areas, like mathematics and management. The most popular course, according to Pires, is about developing algorithms.

“Our goal is to reach low-income people and most of our students are aged between 18 and 23 years old. But anyone in fact can access it. That is the reason we have invested on an online platform; we can reach the whole country.”

Half of the 221,000 students enrolled in courses by the end of 2015 were based in the southeast region of the country, where you have Brazil biggest cities, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

“In addition, to encourage the entry of new professionals in the IT sector, Brasil Mais TI also tries to get companies and candidates closer,” Pires says.

“Companies based anywhere in the country can advertise the positions they have available and students can post their CVs and apply to the jobs offered.”

When asked about any feedback given by the industry about the project, Pires told me not to have anything detailed.

“But there are some specific good examples. HP needed 200 people and only two hours after we have published the vacancies they had more than 500 candidates applying for the positions.”


More Girls in Tech           

The (non-governmental organisation) NGO Progra{m}aria is also trying to tackle the lack of professionals in the Brazilian market but takes a completely different approach. On its website, it highlights that, despite being the majority in Brazil’s higher-education system, women represent only 15 per cent of all the students enrolled in computer science courses. “And the lack of representation in educational system is going to be transferred undeniably to the labour market.”

Iana Chan, one of the founders of the NGO, argues that it’s not only that the IT sector is going to grow more and more in the country: companies are aware that they need diversity in a team in order to get better results and to innovate. Created only one year ago, Progra{m}aria has already been awarded public funding to take ahead some of its projects.

MinasProgramam is another initiative created by two young women and it goes in the same direction. Again the website highlights the low number of women studying computer science in the country and asks for volunteers to help change these numbers. It promotes programming courses for women only in the city of São Paulo and meetings to encourage women to get involved in the tech scene.

And it doesn’t matter if the idea is to reach girls in a big city or the whole country, all these initiatives emphasise in their websites the power of technology and the idea that if you want to have an impact in today’s society you had better learn how to code.



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