Earlier this month two Brazilian tech titans, iFood, the largest foodtech and online delivery company, and XP Inc, the financial services giant, announced they have joined forces to grow a coalition of organizations to address a major challenge for LatAm’s largest economy.
At issue is what’s been deemed a “technological blackout” in Brazil that has already seen more than 100,000 tech jobs go unfilled this year due to a lack of qualified, educated talent. That number is expected to grow by more than 5x by 2025 to about 530,000 tech jobs – including software developers and coders, data scientists, AI engineers, and U/X designers – going unfilled unless there are more people trained in STEM disciplines to fill those roles.
On July 20, iFood and XP unveiled the tech-education initiative and announced the two founding companies (a.k.a. “Maintainers) have invested BRL $5 million and 18 other companies or institutions have committed BRL $10 million to the various projects. The goal is to raise and invest a total of BRL $100 million (US $18 million) between now and 2025.
“In the last year, we saw many companies investing in education, but these efforts are still very dispersed. Thus, we realized the importance of joining forces with others to help solve this deficit in this area that hinders the development of Brazil. Even expanding isolated efforts will not solve the problem. With this union of forces, we hope to promote the meeting between talented people who are just waiting for an opportunity, while contributing to a social transformation and the development of the country,” said Fabrício Bloisi, CEO of iFood.
The main beneficiaries of the coalition’s efforts are underrepresented populations in the tech industry today, including women, Black and low-income people. The Tech Movement’s initiatives range from high school students to adults. The member companies will be able to act at different levels, whether through investments, projects, or execution.
“Our objective is to contribute to making Brazil a prosperous country and a protagonist in terms of technology, with job and career opportunities for all Brazilians. Our big dream is to make a difference in the training of young professionals, so they’re prepared for the challenges of the new digital economy in terms of technology, innovation, and business. We believe that, through social investment, we can generate a structural impact in Brazil that is transformational,” said Thiago Maffra, CEO of XP Inc.
To learn more about the Tech Movement initiative, Grit Daily recent sat down to speak with Gustavo Vitti, Chief People and Sustainability Officer at iFood, to learn more about the progress the collective has made so far, and what to expect next from the coalition’s efforts to increase the diversity and preparedness of Brazil’s future tech-industry workforce:
Grit Daily: Tell us more about how the Tech Movement initiative came about.
Gustavo Vitti: The Tech Movement is a private, social-investment platform for technology. It started a year ago, in a conversation between companies who were suffering from the tech-talent scarcity combined with a shared ESG goal of developing and hiring professionals from non-privileged backgrounds. In other words we have a mutual dream of transforming Brazil into a technological power through diversity.
Today, Brazil is a country with 10 million people who are unemployed, and at the same time, there are plenty of job opportunities in the tech sector that are not being filled due to a lack of qualified labor. This is not because Brazilians don’t want good jobs or higher levels of education, but because opportunities aren’t finding the right people; for example those who live in the favelas. This challenge is exactly what this movement aims to tackle.
So, with this dream in mind and a pinch of reality, we all know this is a marathon and not a sprint. We need to inspire our children to think and dream about working in technology fields which are forecast to see significant growth in the years ahead. In addition, we need to foster easy access to training for these jobs of the future and build bridges between these freshly qualified tech professionals and the Brazilian big tech companies.
What we’ve done so far: we’ve launched two initiatives that have already impacted more than 150,000 people. The first one is the Tech Marathon, for high school students at public and private schools. Set up as an Olympiad-style tech competition between educational institutions, teachers, and students, the first edition in May, earlier this year, had more than 80,000 students compete, including schools from 21 Brazilian states. The second one is Tech Power that has already awarded more than 6,000 intensive scholarships for tech education to underprivileged groups. There’s another two new initiatives being baked that we will launch over the next 3-6 months and the Movement will continue to seek out or create similar initiatives and provide funding to accelerate them.
Today, iFood and XP Inc. are the two original maintainers and there are 20 sponsor companies and institutions in the collective that can contribute to the cause with investments or services, including: Accenture, Arco, Buser, CI&T, Cubos Academy, Descomplica, Digital House, English First (EF), F. Behring, Gama Academy, Grupo Boticário, Instituto Localiza, Kenzie, Let’s Code, ONE Oracle, Raia Drogasi, Rocketseat, Semantix, Telles Foundation, and VTEX.
GD: What are the roles iFood and XP play as founding members?
GV: Companies can take part in the Tech Movement as either Maintainers or Sponsors. For the Maintainers, they play a role in the strategic agenda of the initiative and in the decisions of the projects, being part of the Strategic Council. Sponsors play a role in the execution and funding projects. They also take part in the Consultative Council.
The Tech Movement seeks to attract more companies and organizations from all segments and areas. Participation can occur as a Maintainer or Sponsor, involving financial commitments as well as services. iFood and XP Inc are the first Maintainers. To find out how to participate and contribute to the Movement, just access www.movtech.org.
GD: Brazil is projected to need around 500,000 more tech workers by 2025 than are expected to be available. How many people do you anticipate can be trained by 2025 with R$100M being raised?
GV: With the initial projects, which are already underway, we expect to train one million people by 2025. The more companies and organizations that join the Tech Movement, the more scale we will gain to benefit an increasing number of people.
In the two examples we mentioned before, Tech Marathon and Tech Power, we believe both projects will have a scale of 10-15x bigger than today as we expand the coalition’s resources and gain more visibility. It’s incredible to see how fast we’ve been iterating and improving on the offerings. As an example, today we can provide high-quality tech learning almost 6x cheaper than we did for our first groups.
GD: The U.S. tech industry is predominantly white and male, with women, Black people and other minorities present in much smaller numbers than in the general population. What is the demographic of the Brazilian tech sector today?
GV: It is a similar situation in Brazil compared to the U.S. today The Tech Movement will prioritize underrepresented minorities and low-income people. As a result of the “technological blackout,” as the lack of tech professionals in Brazil has been called, there are already more than 100,000 job vacancies open this year, with little prospect of being filled.
Also, the digitization of the economy and companies, accelerated by the pandemic, has increased the demand for skilled labor, while the number of available professionals remains limited. That’s why our movement is focused on low-income public and non-privileged backgrounds, and prioritizes women and Black people, for example. We want to change the current inequities and have a positive impact on a different future from the one that is projected today.
We believe and invest in education – from basic education, so young people have a better education in Portuguese, Mathematics and Logic, to professional training that is specialized in technology. We also want to develop the technical and emotional skills for those who are already in the marketplace and are seeking new opportunities. That’s why we offer practical tech courses too. We dream to be a quality tech-education platform that will drive the growing tech ecosystem forward so qualified, trained talent are ready to dive into new opportunities and help drive innovation and social transformation.
GD: How and where will you recruit for the program?
GV: Our purpose is to awaken more people’s interest in working in the tech industry, empower them through training – from basic education to practical knowledge, and then help employ for the jobs of the future by building bridges between them and tech companies.
Based on the various programs, courses and partnerships involved, people we’ll be approached from different communication channels as it fits to each initiative invested, and work together with private, public, and non-governmental organizations. We need and we’re calling for others to help with these important efforts.
GD: I can see how cultivating a more diverse workforce could help solve the labor shortage, but what are the less obvious benefits of more diversity?
GV: The inclusion of different people, life stories, and backgrounds is a way to promote more tolerance and societal integration. All innovation, services, products and ways of leading will be enriched by a broader world view; one in which solutions and achievements are sustainable. And most importantly, we will be truly changing lives. We want to reach 2030 with so many lives impacted that we’ll be able to change social inequality in Brazil, with those who have always been the base of the social pyramids as the main protagonists who are creating the country’s prosperity.
GD: The Potentia Tech Platform, which was initiated by iFood, has awarded 6,000 scholarships over the past nine months and 450 of those people have already been hired. How many of those scholarship recipients are from underrepresented groups?
GV: The scholarships are being offered exclusively for low-income people. We prioritize people who are underrepresented in the society, having at least half of the people inside Potencia Tech being women or Black people.