By Alfred Rinaldi, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In a signal that the Brazilian labor market is still going strong despite the economy’s languishing performance, the Confederação Nacional da Indústria (National Confederation of Industry, or CNI) has warned that it will face a shortage of 570,000 workers in 2014 and 2015 respectively. The sectors where demand is strongest are construction, food and drink, automotive, industrial machinery and production of non-metallic minerals.
However, as Márcio Guerra of the industrial umbrella organization points out, the jobs exist in services as well as manufacturing. “For example, a textile technician may well end up being in charge of quality control in one of the large department stores.”
Typical jobs in high demand include drivers, electricians, bakers, painters and welders. Given the shortage of workers, companies are forced to take on employees who are technically overqualified, leading to inflated wage costs.
Eighty percent of this shortage could be met relatively swiftly by means of vocational training consisting of less than two hundred hours’ instruction. The remaining fifth of vacancies require more highly-skilled and educated workers, whose qualifications will take longer to attain.
With regard to compensation, the analysis shows that industry offers the highest salaries in all types of occupations, compared with the economy’s average. In 2012, in industry technicians received on average R$3,170.25 per month. In other sectors, professionals with the same level of education earn, on average, R$2,376.08 – 33.4 percent less. For higher education professionals, the difference reaches 64 percent. While the average wage in all sectors is R$4,352.87, in industry it is R$7,140.46.
For an immediate solution to the labor shortage, Brazil may well look across its borders. According to official statistics, 94.6 percent of work visas were granted to skilled international employees as well as those with higher education degrees and diplomas. Overall, the Brazilian government issued 242,466 work visas between 2009 and 2012, 228,468 of which went to highly-skilled applicants.
Hélio Coelho of Judicial Care, a consultancy specializing in helping foreign companies do business in Brazil, most of these jobs are in oil and gas. Speaking to The Rio Times, Coelho said: “In my office, I see a lot of opportunities for highly-skilled, specialist engineers in these sectors. Another growth area is in food and drink. We see many restaurateurs from France, Italy and Spain who are worried about the outlook in their home markets.”
Currently, foreigners can work in Brazil under temporary or permanent work visas. Temporary work visas allow foreign business people to work in the country for a period of up to ninety days, for example in order to visit and acquire clients, conduct market research or to attend conferences, seminars and meetings. This ninety-day visa cannot be extended.
Temporary work visas may also be granted where the applicant has a fixed-term contract of employment in Brazil or is concerned with the transfer of technology to the country. Under these conditions, a temporary visa is valid for up to one year. In a recognition that these rules are highly restrictive, and responding in part to demands by industry, the process of applying for work visas has been simplified last year.