By Ben Tavener, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – While Brazil has made efforts to entice foreign highly skilled workers to the country, it has a natural interest in keeping well-paid professional jobs for Brazilians. With the foreign work visa process already overloaded, a new program to bring Brazilian nationals working abroad back has gained momentum, according to a recent O Globo report.
The opportunity is fed by the fact that many skilled Brazilian candidates are un– or under-employed in other countries due to the global economic crisis or other immigration issues. Yet many of these Brazilians are calling for improvements in wages, social services and tax rates before making the move.
It is estimated some three million Brazilians currently work abroad, although this is difficult to calculate and even harder to verify, as some work on an unofficial basis and have outstayed their visas.
A special cross-ministry commission is to be created this month to discuss with proposals. According to the President of the National Immigration Council (CNIg), Paulo Sérgio de Almeida, businesses will reap the benefits of contracting Brazilians, a far simpler process than hiring foreign nationals:
“When visiting Brazilians living abroad, we often hear that, after years of work and now with grown children, many are unemployed. These are highly-skilled people. Brazil can now offer a place for these people to return to work.”
Graduates and other highly-skilled workers affected by the global crisis should be prime candidates for “repatriation,” particularly those from industries currently in such high demand in Brazil: infrastructure, logistics, oil and gas, and technology.
The lack of skilled labor in Brazil is recognized as one of the contributing factors to the so-called “Brazil cost,” which discourages greater investment in the country from overseas. Its repercussions have been felt with the array of multi-billion-dollar infrastructure projects planned and underway in Brazil in the run-up to the World Cup and Olympics.
The government has previously focused on enticing skilled foreigner workers, particularly in Spain and Portugal, but the CNIg admits the system for conceding work visas to foreigners is outdated, on top of a 192-percent increase in applications since 2005. There are plans to improve the work visa system, but they have been stuck in Congress since 2009.
Now the focus appears to have shifted to bringing back ready-to-work Brazilians, and an attempt to “poach back” suitably-employed Brazilians could also make up part of this plan.
Luiz Carlos Chagas, who works at the Brazilian Embassy in London, initially studied in the UK and returned to Brazil in search of work, “There simply weren’t the jobs for my skills with an equivalent wage, and after years away it was like arriving in a foreign country all over again.”
Now Luiz believes the situation in Brazil has changed, and has been impressed by the idea of a program aimed at getting skilled workers back to Brazil. He believes its success will depend mostly on how practical it is. “If things go well, I could consider giving Brazil another try,” he tells The Rio Times.
Others, like Pedro Baron, a content analyst at Facebook in Dublin, now have a family and have had ongoing career opportunities abroad, “I’ve had the opportunity to work for companies like HP, IBM and now Facebook. Less tax and better public services – public health, education and transport – in Brazil would definitely sway my decision about working back in Brazil,” he tells The Rio Times.