Salerno, Mario Sergio Lins, Leonardo Melo Araújo, Bruno César Gomes, Leonardo Augusto Vasconcelos Toledo, Demétrio Nascimento, Paulo A. Meyer M.
Year of Publication:
Texto para Discussão, Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada (IPEA) 1983
Is Brazil facing or likely to face a shortage of specialized workers? This question has been in the national agenda of government, industry and the press in recent years. The problem shall be larger if affecting science & technology careers, as these are usually positively correlated to income per capita. Contrary to the common sense, however, there is hardly any supporting empirical evidence for economy-wide shortage scenarios, at least not concerning engineering professionals. If that was the case, wages should continuously increase more for engineers than to other qualified professionals, but this trend reversed in 2009. Moreover, the education sector has been producing a number of new graduates greater than the marginal demand observed in the labor market. Where does the problem lie, after all? This article aims to organize this debate and summarize key questions and data in an attempt to shed light on what may actually lie beneath the generalized perception that Brazil lacks engineers. A major finding comes from the national population census. The evolution of the age pyramid for engineering-degree holders suggests that this career was much less attractive in the 1980s and 1990s. As a result, Brazil seems to nowadays face a relatively reduced availability of mid-career engineering-professionals. This may be imposing significant barriers for the firms to adequately fulfill vacancies demanding experienced engineers for leadership positions. In addition to other constraints related to quality and mobility matters, the relatively reduced supply of 35-59 years-old engineers is likely to be behind many of the recent complains of workforce shortage in Brazil.