Foreign professionals wanted in Brazil

Foreign professionals wanted in Brazil

The government in Brazil is looking at ways to relax immigration rules to attract up to 10 times more skilled foreign professionals into the country to spur growth.

Brazil, the world's sixth largest economy, is currently facing a talent deficit, as companies struggle to find qualified workers to ramp up their operations.

"This country has become very isolated from the rest of the world in terms of its labour markets and that is affecting our competitiveness," Ricardo Paes de Barros, head of a team on strategic initiatives at the president's office, was quoted as saying in Reuters.

"We want to turn that around so Brazil will be better connected with the rest of the world in terms of transfer of knowledge," he added.

In the past, Brazil had waves of immigrants arriving from all over the world. However, the economic woes of the second half of the century led to a drastic slowdown of foreigners. Today, foreigners represent just 0.3% of Brazil's workforce, much lower than the figure of seven per cent at the beginning of the 20th century.

"We need to reach a level of two to three per cent of our workforce made up of foreigners. That means multiplying the current levels by 10," said Paes de Barros. "If we do that we should be fine."

Business leaders also complain that Brazilian bureaucracy makes it difficult and expensive to hire foreigners.

In order to hire professionals from other countries, firms must first prove they were unable to find suitable local workers. They are also required to train Brazilians to eventually replace the foreign employees.

Foreigners face countless barriers and red tape – getting a temporary identity card can take more than six months.

"Hiring a foreigner in Brazil is complicated. It takes a lot of bureaucracy, time and uncertainty regarding whether it will be granted," said Luiz Fernando Alouche, an immigration lawyer with the Almeida Advogados firm in Sao Paulo.

A task force has been created to prepare a report on the advantages and challenges of new, more flexible regulation to attract skilled foreign workers.