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Lots of jobs, but few candidates: workforce shortage puts the expansion of startups in Brazil at risk

Record investments increase the offer of jobs, but they also bring to light the pressure for startups to hire and train tech professionals.

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What about a year marked by investment records, nine unicorns (18 in Latin America), and the IPO of the world’s largest digital bank in the number of clients on the NYSE? All of this happened in the Brazilian innovation ecosystem last year. For 2022, expansion is key. The record flood of funding rounds raised so far drives the creation of thousands of tech jobs, but filling the opportunities is more difficult than it sounds.

A survey carried out by the platform that connects companies and candidates Catho pointed to a growth of 17.9% in the number of open jobs in the technology sector in the first half of 2021 when compared to the same period of the previous year. Developers account for nearly a third of that increase and many companies still have vacancies for that position.

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Two recent examples of companies talent hunting are the marketing platform RD Station and fintech N26 Brasil. This year, the marketing automation company anticipates the arrival of 350 new employees (see the full list of jobs at RD Station) and has already opened a process for hiring 30 professionals. The fintech, on the other hand, plans to hire 300 new employees for 2022 — more than half of the opportunities are destined for the technology area. You can check N26 Brazil jobs on the company’s page on LinkedIn.

Another fintech that is looking for new talent to keep up with its growth is N5. The company develops software for fintechs, banks, and insurance companies and claims to grow 500% a year. Currently, fintech has 200 employees around the world and is looking for more than 100 professionals. Through a differentiated selection process, N5 intends to fill key positions with developers, data scientists, and software architects. Find out how to apply here.

Brazilian payments fintech EBANX, which also owns LABS, plans to fill 80 open jobs exclusively with technology professionals. Access the full list here.

And the cases go on and on.

Speaking of fintech, a survey by the recruitment company Gupy points out that the sector had grown 466% in relation to the number of open positions between the first half of 2020 and the same period in 2021. Jobs related to technology represent a third of the total.

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According to the CEO of the innovation platform Distrito, Gustavo Araujo, “the Brazil of technology has already succeeded”. In other words, the innovation ecosystem must sustain its growth in the coming years and continue accelerating due to new injections of capital – as long as it knows how to hire strategically.

Latin America and Brazil are at the right time to enter this market, because major global investors are coming here to participate in this moment of transformation”, says the Distrito’s CEO.

One of the driving forces for innovation in Latin America, SoftBank has created a special page to advertise positions available at companies that has its SoftBank Latin America Fund’s investment. As of the first week of January 2022, the site listed 2,625 available opportunities. And counting.

“Labor blackout”

The scenario worries entities such as the Federation of Brazilian Information Technology Companies (also known as Assespro). In December, Assespro completed 45 years of existence and launched a manifesto in which it points out its concern with the blackout of labor in the IT sector. Signed by the organization’s president, Italo Nogueira, the document classifies the scenario as “catastrophic” and predicts that the deficit of specialized professionals should reach 450,000 in just three years.

The entity calls for urgent coordination of all levels of government, executives and legislatures, public and private companies for actions to reduce this deficit. These include the educational focus on strategic areas (STEM), the creation of a national culture around innovation and IT, and the creation of a national infrastructure for innovation to direct efforts in this area.

READ ALSO: 2021 was a tough year for big techs

The co-founder of the innovation ecosystem articulation group Dínamo and president of the Brazilian Association of Startups (Abstartups), Felipe Matos, shares this concern. “We have a big challenge on the talent side. We are very close to this blackout of talent in technology. The offer we have now, from the point of view of experienced professionals, is not enough in terms of quantity and quality”, says Matos.

To deliver all the growth that is expected from the investments that startups have been receiving, we will need to train and qualify a lot of people. This is a necessity and it is still an opportunity

Felipe Matos, president of Abstartups

Matos is also the founder of Sirius, a digital technology school, with fast and accessible courses focused on the student experience. However, the view that education is the way to access these opportunities is shared by other startups.

This is the case with edtech Digital House. In October, the company announced its merger with the programming education platform Rocketseat. Together, the schools have already impacted more than 1.2 million students in Latin America.

“The lack of workforce in technology is a huge problem and we are only at the beginning of it”, says Rocketseat co-founder and CEO, Robson Marques. “For this reason, it is a problem to be solved in scale. Therefore, having a community of technology professionals is an important asset to start solving the problem. We have to bring both aspirants and professionals closer to, in fact, be able to prepare them and help the market”.

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With the association, the companies plan to expand the offer of courses, from the most basic to advanced programs. In addition to producing content together, the brands want to offer a catalog of courses aimed at companies. Thus, businesses can train their professionals to fit their needs.

“Traditionally, technology and coding are still in people’s minds as [professions] who need very technical knowledge, only suited for mathematicians or engineers. But that’s only 5% of the work, the other 95% has to do with web pages, e-commerce, marketing campaigns, etc. The programming world needs a lot of people who are more creative than technical. Programming is creating, solving problems”, says the CEO of Digital House Brasil, Sebastian Mackinlay.

For Mackinlay, the school’s differential is its concern with the support of professionals who are entering the market. Digital House’s careers department connects the edtech students to companies. According to the executive, 97% of students who use the department get a position.

Part of our job is to demystify this difficulty and open these opportunities to people who today do not see themselves as candidates for these jobs

Sebastian Mackinlay, CEO of Digital House Brasil

Virtual emigration

Here comes in place another problem: the expansion of remote work has contributed to many experienced professionals being hired by companies abroad. The so-called virtual emigration, in which professionals in the region do not need to work in companies in the country without leaving Brazil, also worries specialists.

“The pandemic also had an effect that many companies from outside Brazil are coming to hire our professionals, paying in dollars and euros, taking advantage of the exchange rate. This is building up pressure for startups who need to hire and grow”, says Felipe Matos, from Abstartups.

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Based in London, managing partner of Capital Lab VenturesVanessa Viana believes this situation is not new and that the rate of global brands “fishing for talent” among Brazilian developers is only likely to increase.

Capital Lab launched a $100 million fund to transform some of the region’s startups into “mini-multinationals”. The company’s thesis is to find startups that solve society’s big problems.

With 20 years of experience in the venture capital market, Viana emphasizes that it is necessary to give Latin American entrepreneurs a chance to compete on equal terms with companies outside the country.

“The problem is not that our devs are appealing to global players. The problem lies in the fact that we are not using our management skills to create large conglomerates, that our technology companies are not being able to compete on equal terms with technology players from abroad”, points out Viana.