Vocational education curricula are disconnected from the tech market’s
demands, especially with regard to teaching methodologies that encourage
students to solve real-world problems.
“Brazil’s technology sector has been growing among the fastest in the world. The
country’s human capital training, however, is growing in the opposite direction.”
Read more in Luiza Toledo and Talita Nascimento’s essay.
Brazil’s technology sector has been growing among the fastest in the world.
The global software market, for example, generated US$ 1.3 trillion in 2020.
Brazil alone was responsible for US$ 22.9 billion, occupying the 9th position
in the world rank and leadership in Latin America - according to the
Brazilian Association of Software Companies (ABES) 2021 report. The
country’s human capital training, however, is growing in the opposite
Tech companies require around 159,000 new professionals per year, yet
less than 50 thousand young IT professionals are trained by higher
education institutions each year. That amounts to an annual deficit of
106,000 talents, according to Brasscom’s projection. In addition, there’s a
universe of over 3 million unemployed young people, in which low-income
youth still face restricted access to university, with few showing interest in
technology, as shown by the OECD.
A diagnosis explaining this imbalance between supply and demand for
technology professionals and why this problem persists over time was
produced by Telles Foundation (a nonprofit organization focused on
ensuring opportunities for low-income youth) in partnership with Delivery
Associates (a global public management consultancy).
Through in-depth interviews with more than 30 specialists in the field
(educators, entrepreneurs, and public managers), public data analysis, and
mapping of 34 international and national success cases, the research team
identified six main problem drivers and potential solutions.
The study reveals a chronic deficiency in key-competences training to the
development of technology activities, such as mathematics, English, and
logical thinking. IDEB (the Brazilian Index of Development of Basic
Education) data show that, in 2019, only 5.2% of high school students
graduated with adequate Math learning. Even private schools have difficulty
delivering quality math education; only 39% of high school graduates show
appropriate learning. English proficiency is also a challenge for potential
tech workers, a crucial skill in understanding basic programming
commands. In Brazil, only 10,3% of 18-24 year-olds claim to be proficient in
English, according to a British Council report.
For low-income youth, the lack of repertoire, self-esteem, and contact
networks is also a challenge to overcome in order to enter the tech market.
Most public school students are unaware of the professional and financial
opportunities within the sector and are directly influenced by their closest
family members when it comes to defining their careers.
Furthermore, there’s a consensus among specialists that current vocational
education curricula are disconnected from the job market’s demands,
especially with regard to active learning methodologies that encourage
students to solve real-life problems and ensure hands-on learning
experiences. The study shows that the private market increasingly seeks
professionals that can combine technical and socioemotional skills.
Communication, problem-solving, responsibility, and self-education are
fundamental competencies, but they’re still poorly addressed in public
schools. An exception in this ecosystem is the full-time high school
curriculum, prioritizing youth leadership, life design, and autonomy.
From the professionals’ demand perspective, the study revealed that the
demand for junior professionals is low - around 13% -, and geographically
restricted. About 41% of the 129,000 vacancies available for IT in 2021
were for positions in the South and Southeast regions. Although the
COVID-19 pandemic response has leveraged remote work, recruiters still
prefer young professionals who live in the companies’ headquarters city.
According to Revelo’s study, only 19% of IT vacancies in 2022 were
intended to remote work.
The study also found that certificates are valued when hiring young talents.
The interviews showed that the assumption that a university degree is not
necessary to work in technology is, in part, a myth. Even though companies
don’t include higher education as a prerequisite, in practice, young
graduates hold an advantage in hiring. According to interviews with experts,
the vast majority of medium and small companies don’t have the robust
recruiting structure required to identify skills during the selection process.
As a result, they end up using the certifications as a sign of candidate
quality. Large companies are an exception, with in-house training resources
to build capacity in technical skills such as programming, language, and
coding. In this case, the selection processes prioritize talents with
socioemotional skills and alignment with the company’s values.
Investing in a new model of technical education, with a curriculum that
combines technology knowledge, socioemotional skills, and effective
connection with the job market is not just a way of guaranteeing the IT
industry’s growth in Brazil. Most importantly, it is a way of ensuring that
low-income young people are prepared to participate in the working world’s
future, with the leading role that they deserve.
Luiza Toledo holds a degree in psychology from Mackenzie Presbyterian
University and a postgraduate degree in Leadership Development from
Fundação Dom Cabral. She worked for more than 10 years in the human
resources area, specializing in designing strategies for developing leaders
and training young people. She works in the third sector with a focus on
education, having worked at Ismart with a focus on the development of
gifted young people. She is currently responsible for the Telles Foundation,
a philanthropic organization focused on generating opportunities in STEM
careers for low-income young Brazilians.
Talita Nascimento holds a master's degree in Educational Policy from
Teachers College, Columbia University, and a bachelor's degree in law from
the University of São Paulo. Talita has been working with education for over
10 years, having held leadership positions in the Ministry of Education,
Unesco, Fundação Getulio Vargas, and in the third sector. She is currently
a project leader at Delivery Associates, a global public policy consultancy.
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