Jason Barton

Professional Information and Energy News

Educational Gaps Limit Brazil’s Reach

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This is probably the most important point that I took away from my doctoral research on the Brazilian bioenergy sector. It is in the midst of a market-led transition from its previous position as reliant on abundant, unskilled labor, to one that is much more mechanized and reliant on high technology.

This new approach relies on fewer laborers, but higher skill levels, as well as jobs that may more and are much safer. It’s not entirely or immediately positive, as with these new jobs that require greater education, there are fewer total jobs available. One tractor does the work of 80 field laborers, bringing with it another 20-30 jobs directly or indirectly.

Two developments are needed to make this transition as smooth as possible:

1. More jobs. The newer jobs are better, but what happens to the 50-60 field laborers who lose their jobs in Sao Paulo and return home to the Northeast, where President Lula was born, where there are few opportunities and rising problems associated with widespread unemployment and poverty?

2. More education. If Brazil is going to make the successful transition from commodities producer to producer of higher value, finished goods, it will need a much more highly educated and trained workforce.

From my own research, including interviews and surveys with people in Sao Paulo, and from the information in this article, it looks like many are aware of these problems and are dedicated to addressing them.

That’s great news.

André Vieira for The New York Times

A school in Caetés, Brazil, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s hometown.

Published: September 4, 2010

CAETÉS, Brazil — When Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was sworn in as Brazil’s president in early 2003, he emotionally declared that he had finally earned his “first diploma” by becoming president of the country.

One of Brazil’s least educated presidents — Mr. da Silva completed only the fourth grade — soon became one of its most beloved, lifting millions out of extreme poverty, stabilizing Brazil’s economy and earning near-legendary status both at home and abroad.

But while Mr. da Silva has overcome his humble beginnings, his country is still grappling with its own. Perhaps more than any other challenge facing Brazil today, education is a stumbling block in its bid to accelerate its economy and establish itself as one of the world’s most powerful nations, exposing a major weakness in its newfound armor.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

September 6th, 2010 at 8:34 am