Blackout to expand ‘Silicon Valley’ in Brazil

The Silicon Valley region of the United States is home to the largest technology companies and is known worldwide as one of the major innovation hubs. In Brazil, despite the existence of islands of concession, which some call the “Brazilian Silicon Valley”, the country is still far from approaching the efficiency and quality of the American technology park, as a result of the joint efforts of educational institutions, research centers and companies. The main reasons are the lack of skilled labor, the legal and cultural difficulties for universities to work alongside companies, and the absence of public policies that encourage this transformation.

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To understand the magnitude of the bottleneck, it is necessary to analyze the indicators of the scientific production of Brazilian universities. Graduate courses, for example, are responsible for about 80% of the nation’s scientific output. Brazil is also one of the countries that produces the largest number of research, and in recent years it has fluctuated between the 13th and 14th places in the world in terms of the amount of research. Leaves, near countries such as South Korea and Germany. The problem is that this set brings quantity, not quality. Brazil, in the latest scientific impact rankings – an indicator that assesses the effectiveness of research – has remained among the last places, sometimes behind Latin American countries, according to a ranking Scimago . magazinewhich invests less than Brazil in science.

Brazil also ranks 56th in the science-industry cooperation rankings, according to a survey conducted by web of science. In international quality rankings, Brazilian universities are also far from their counterparts abroad. For example, in the recent editions of the QS World University Ranking, Brazil scored about 20 universities among the top 1000 universities in the world and only one is above 200.

Another indicator that shows how much scientific production in most Brazilian universities is out of focus from the labor market is the assessment of the fate of the approximately 23,000 doctorates who graduate each year in the country. Of the total, 80% are still in university and only 20% go to companies. This scenario is completely reversed in countries such as the United States and Germany: most Ph.D. holders will work in industry and other economic development firms.

There is a problem with both the number of professionals and the quality of colleges. Students graduating lack knowledge of current technologies, best practices, and social and emotional skills, such as teamwork, learning independence, proactivity, and communication,” says Fabio de Miranda, Insper Computer Engineering Course Coordinator.

According to him, one should not despise some regions of Brazil, where there are large technological parks, such as the Pyrenees region, in São Paulo (SP), São José dos Campos (SP), Campinas (SP), Recife (PE), and Santa Fe. Rita do Sabocai (MG), among others. So are Brazilian technology companies valued at more than $1 billion. But despite these facts, the current scenario is still far from what could happen in Brazil.

Unemployment x underemployment

According to data from the Continuous National Survey of Household Sample (PNAD Contínua), conducted by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), Brazil had 12 million unemployed people in the fourth quarter of 2021.

On the other hand, the account is not closed in the technology sector. Annually, 53 thousand people are trained in courses focused on this field, but the average market demand is 159 thousand professionals per year. According to a survey conducted by Brascom, the country may face a talent shortfall of 530,000 talents by 2025.

We pay to think about it just now. We’re short on talent, if there’s a minimum to use, that’s enough, says Anna Resende, talent strategist at Astella Investimentos.

In Anna’s view, universities and companies have not been able to keep pace with the constant development of the technology sector: “People leave the university with knowledge that it is likely to become obsolete, and companies are already using other tools. So yes, universities are not preparing. But, at the same time, I see that we, as institutions , also took us a long time to understand that “the bucket will dry up”.

According to her, companies have also been slow to respond, with programs for employees and future employees. “In the past 18 months, organizations have started offering their own development programs, and we’ve been talking about a talent shortage for five years,” he explains.

This gap between theory and practice in teaching is felt by students and organizations as well. “There are a lot of professionals in the market who are learning programming, but the standard of demand from companies is very high and not for a ridiculous reason. They need to compete in this digital world, they have many projects of yesterday and they need really qualified professionals, but the college does not succeed in training them for this New World,” reviews Michele Negri, co-founder and COO [Chief Operating Officer] From Driven, a technical school that specializes in developer training.

“Companies feel that there is no qualified professional in the market. According to Brasscom, in higher technology education, of all entrants, only 30% complete the courses. What does this reveal? That this training does not engage is long, boring, theoretical and disconnected from the labor market. Among 30% of these graduates, only half of them are used in the market, while the rest go to work with other things. That is, although they are trained, they are not qualified to enter the market. And even those who do enter need to take some additional courses to learn the techniques The new used,” Nigri reflects, in a tone of concern.

Globalization is also affecting the sector. With the Covid-19 pandemic and carrying out work in home officeForeign companies have started recruiting Brazilians who can work from here and get paid in dollars. “We always had a shortage of talent in certain regions, but today we have a much fiercer enemy. What globalization has brought us, in the end, is that all countries have access to our best employees,” Anna says.

how to solve?

For Miranda, the first step toward resolving this conflict would be for the government to work more efficiently at “cutting the ‘cost’ of Brazil” rather than building exceptions to benefit a specific sector. The government’s attempts and incentives to direct the economy toward certain sectors have not been successful. The government can act in the sense of simplifying the undertaking process, improving infrastructure, and simplifying the import of production inputs or equipment that will enable productive activity,” he asserts.

The professor also believes that government and private initiatives can invest in shorter courses, while universities should provide students with teaching pathways more relevant to market realities:

“Increasingly, simpler jobs will be created that do not require higher education. Which is great. With the digitization of the economy, we will reach a point where the majority of jobs will be in technology. In this way, it seems like an interesting strategy, for both government and private institutions, to offer training and education faster than the class to qualify professionals from sectors that are shrinking, such as industry.”

“This strategy will allow those already trained and specialized in tech jobs the ability to focus on the toughest problems and leadership roles in teams. Universities can do like Insper: bring professional reality to training, so students see that their efforts in studies will pay off and learn in real context. It’s a strategy Motivates and reduces evasion. Institutions can also help by providing a level of missing prior knowledge, encouraging the ability to plan studies and reflecting on learning, and actively promoting the development of social and emotional skills. In addition, it makes students better prepared to work in professional teams soon after graduation” , as he comments.

For companies, initiatives like Driven are seen as an alternative to this obfuscation of professionals. Within nine months, the school prepares its students for the job market. “So far, all the students who graduated with us have been hired within 60 days, with average starting salaries of R$5,700. Now, what do we do to make it work? First: We have a rigorous selection process, we have only approved 2% of applicants and about 70 % of those interested come from a reputable university, are qualified students in the field of exact sciences with a connection to the region. [de tecnologia]”,” says Negri. “We give 1,200 hours of training. Nine months seems small, but when we compare training time to 5,000 hours in college, it’s not much different, since college has many subjects that aren’t geared toward this market,” he points out.

Students seek knowledge outside universities

Wilson Ferreira Costa, a production engineer with a master’s degree in Civil Engineering from the Federal University of Pará (UFPA), sensed this gulf between classroom-learned content and market realities. “It is necessary to break the paradigm that a student has to be in this little box to study and learn calculus and apply it in a company. That is not all, he needs a set of external training to define the field of work,” he points out.

To fill this gap, Costa has taken online courses at CEPRA (Brazilian Service to Support Small and Small Enterprises) and has volunteered for Enactus Network, an international organization where university students develop social entrepreneurship projects.

The professional currently works as a Program Manager at Enactus Brasil, a position in which he maintains liaison with companies such as Amanco and Unilever. In this position, Costa receives positive feedback from these companies due to the interdisciplinary training of Enactus students. “Companies see in our students the corporate leader of the future. That is why they have training and training programs exclusive to Enactus members, because they know that our university students have a different profile,” he comments.

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