The engineering deficit: Brazil’s quest for engineers

Some months ago a Dutch football team, VVV-Venlo, hired a new player to strengthen its squad. What made this signing unusual was the new player’s age: Baerke van der Maij was just 18 months old. The baby was hired by the Dutch team following the great success of an internet clip showing him repeatedly kicking … Continued

Some months ago a Dutch football team, VVV-Venlo, hired a new player to strengthen its squad. What made this signing unusual was the new player’s age: Baerke van der Maij was just 18 months old. The baby was hired by the Dutch team following the great success of an internet clip showing him repeatedly kicking footballs straight into a box.

Hiring early to secure young talent for the future could be a possible solution for the current lack of qualified engineers in Brazil. According to Confea (Brazil’s Federal Council of Engineering, Architecture and Agronomy), there is currently an annual deficit of over 20,000 Brazilian engineers. This represents a huge economic loss for the country’s technology research progress. The difficulty in hiring engineers is a nationwide problem, and there are hundreds of job opportunities that take months to be filled.

According to Confea, there is currently an annual deficit of over 20,000 Brazilian engineers.

This is of particular concern to the automotive industry in Brazil, an important player in the country’s economy. According to the Brazilian Automotive Yearbook 2010, the automotive industry represents 19.8% of the country’s industrial GDP, and employs 1.5 million people. These are significant numbers!

Many other countries have surpassed this Latin American country in terms of engineering education. While only 5.1% of all Brazilian college students choose a career in engineering, the number of graduated engineers in other countries – such as Spain, Japan, China and Portugal – is higher than the demand.

So, what is the solution? Taking the lead from the aforementioned Dutch football team, why not hire engineers when they are still children? This is a deliberately provocative suggestion, of course, but it illustrates Brazil’s urgent need for a highly qualified work force in areas where the demand requires quick support, such as the automotive industry.

Around two months ago, the Brazilian government announced the launch of a specific programme to stimulate and support academic engineering courses across the country. Since these measures are focused on medium and long-term results, immigration of foreign engineers is becoming more and more common. In fact, the demand in Brazil is so high, and the fields of engineering are so varied, that the job opportunities are being filled by qualified people from other countries.

Why is the number of engineers abroad so much higher than the demand, while in Brazil it is the opposite?

Authorities and decision-makers in Brazil must very carefully analyse the causes and circumstances that led us to this controversial and puzzling situation. Why is the number of engineers abroad so much higher than the demand, while in Brazil it is the opposite?

It will be fascinating to observe how the situation develops over the coming months and years. As we all know, Brazil has great potential, and is becoming a powerful player in the world economy and the global automotive industry. Will the field of engineering be able to keep up with industrial growth? It is vital that it does. The youth are essential to securing our future in engineering, and we need to support the promotion of engineering with significant investments. This is top priority – the Brazilian automotive industry is begging for action.

The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Automotive World Ltd.

Jeannette Galbinski is the Director of Setec Consulting Group (www.setecnet.com.br). Setec Consulting Group is one of the largest consulting, training and auditing companies in Latin America. Founded in 1994, it is headquartered in Sao Paulo, Brazil, with offices in Manaus (Brazil), Buenos Aires (Argentina) and Santiago (Chile).

Jeannette Galbinski has a doctorate in Production Engineering from the University of Sao Paulo (USP), M.Sc. Quality and Reliability from Technion Institute of Technology and a degree in Statistics from USP, and she specialised in Industrial administration at Fundacao Vanzolini. Jeanette is a certified Master Black Belt and international consultant specialised in implementing Quality Systems and Tools and Six Sigma projects. Jeannette also writes for Banas Qualidade, Brazil’s most recognised quality magazine.

E-mail: jgalbinski@setecnet.com.br
Twitter: www.twitter.com/Setecnet

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