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Brazil Commits to Tech Ed at G20 Summit

Program Outlines Plan to Train 12 Million Young People in Many Areas

Each of the G20 member countries outlined a Comprehensive Growth Strategy at the recent G20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia. One of the more aggressive plans comes from Brazil, which has pledged to train 12 million young people in technical areas by 2018.

The program is called Pronatec, and is administered by the Ministries of Labor and Education jointly with local councils. The program has actually been in effect since 2011, already reaching 8 million students, according to the report. It targets an additional 4 million students over the next four years. Its cost was listed as more than US$6 billion.

Pronatec is focused on many technical areas, including manufacturing, the chemical industry, and construction. It is designed to complement other job training programs in Brazil, one of which has been in existence since 1991 and is focused on serving tens of millions of rural citizens.

The Overall Challenge
Brazil's size and population ensure that its development challenges remain formidable. It land area is larger than that of the continental United States -- its vast Amazon rain forest covers 40% of that area - and its population of more than 200 million is about two-thirds that of the US.

Our research at the Tau Institute shows the challenge facing Brazil to develop its ICT environment to be in the middle of the pack globally. It is roughly in the same boat with its regional sibling Mexico, and with Thailand a continent away.

Subjectively speaking, this result surprises me. I've been critical of Brazil's standing within our rankings, thinking that given the vast attention its received as a BRIC nation and its foreign direct investment of more than $600 billion annually that it should perform even better.

Go For It
It's heartening to see its long-running commitment to technical development. But we think the country would benefit further from explicit commitments to building its underlying ICT infrastructure, to improve such key metrics as Internet access rates and average connection speed.

If the country can increase its commitment to ICT more explicitly - and its G20 report listed a commitment to telco only of just $1.27 billion - perhaps the country will, in fact, emerge as a true economic giant some day. As of now, it ranks seventh in the world, slightly ahead of Russia and slightly behind the UK.

An aggressive, explicit commitment to ICT will, we believe, decrease the country's still-high level of income disparity, and will increase its government transparency will increase, thus also lowering an accompanying perception of corruption.

There is a network effect to improving a nation's ICT ecosystem, and Brazil could benefit more than any other nation in the Americas from a commitment to ICT that matches its commitment to technical education.

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Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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