The Training and Work of Civil Engineers in Brazil: Period 2015-2020

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SOUZA, Neide Liamar Rabelo de [1], SOUZA, Célia Magalhães de [2], CAMPOS, Maria Aparecida Santos e [3]

SOUZA, Neide Liamar Rabelo de. SOUZA, Célia Magalhães de. CAMPOS, Maria Aparecida Santos e. The Training and Work of Civil Engineers in Brazil: Period 2015-2020. Revista Científica Multidisciplinar Núcleo do Conhecimento. Year 06, Ed. 04, Vol. 03, pp. 45-70. April. ISSN: 2448-0959, Access link:


In the 21st century, numerous events impacted Brazilian society, between 2003 and 2014, the country experienced an economic expansion and social well-being, with long-term public policies, minimum income programs, universal schooling and popular housing. However, in 2014 it implemented the Lava Jato operation, which in the following years made it impossible to continue companies in the engineering area; political, economic instability, impoverishing the quality of jobs and household incomes. Society faces severe economic recession and since the second month of 2020, faces the setback stemming from the pandemic caused by Covid-19. The present study is based on qualitative and descriptive forms of bibliographic and documentary review. The objective is to analyze the training and employability of civil engineers in Brazil, an indispensable and priority profession for the collectivity. The main results were: the negative impact on the construction segment and the entire production chain by reducing public spending on infrastructure and major works; the economic recession that affects the productive sector in its entirety; precarious pay, especially from 2017, with force-greater impact in 2020, with the pandemic by Covid-19.

Keywords: Engineer Training, Civil Engineer, Work, Economic Recession, Covid-19.


The foundation of the conception of the Theory of Human Capital (TCH) conceived by Schultz (1967, p. 13), in 1961, proposes the qualification of the labor through Education, as one of the most important means to increase productivity and, consequently, for profit. By instructing the human being, he adds value to himself in order to exercise his office with theoretical and practical foundation, with qualified performance. As neotechnicpedagogy describes Silva (2018, p. 10) “educational policies emphasize the quality criterion based on the intensive use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), as a strategy for adapting school education to the information society.” With the purpose of training dynamic students, possessing various skills and abilities to be multifunctional.

The professional may have an autonomous performance, but the 21st century requires the indispensability of teamwork. As is a requirement that they be entrepreneurs, both in the sense of seeking constant training, as well as having their own business; in the Age of Knowledge there is no job for everyone. Especially in Brazil, since 2015, society has faced a severe economic recession and, due to the model of neoliberal economic policy chosen by the central leaders, it is known to lead to high rates of unemployment and underemployment, outsourcing, informal work, among other forms of precariousness, which in the whole was baptized as urberization.

The construction segment comes from the time when man ceased to be nomadic (Neolithic revolution) and realized that he could plant the food and harvest them in the future, with this, began to bind to a fixed place, needing permanent shelter to withstand the oscillations of the seasons. According to archaeologists, Eridu in Sumeria can be considered the first city, around 4,000 a.C., but 500 years later, a model of urbanization appears in Uruk, Mesopotamia. It is worth discerning that, at every historical time, humanity has enjoyed the most of the technology available and sought well-being for itself and also for the community in which it is inserted (Tavares Junior, 2012, p. 12).

This article aims to evaluate the context of training and working conditions of civil engineers after the operation Lava Jato, beginning in 2014, significantly altering public policies, with repercussions on the conduct of the Presidency of the Republic, economic model and deletions of social rights such as: in the area of labor law, social security and freezing of public investments for twenty years. In 2020, with a severe recession of production factors, society was hit by the pandemic by Covid-19, starting in March and remains ongoing.


The engineering activities in Brazil began with the general government of Tomé de Souza (1549-1553), because with it came the first administrative officials and the Jesuit Congregation. These were the forerunners of science and research in the country, as studies of mathematics and cartography, the Royal Charter of 1699 offormalized the teaching of military engineering in the Colony. The records of significant advances with engineering and technology works were in the Old Republic (1889-1930), with the construction of railways, main activity until the 1920s. Then, in the 1930s-40s with the use of reinforced concrete that propitiated the emergence of the construction industry (FERREIRA et al., 2017, p. 35).

Brazil visualizes modernization after the end of World War II, industrial activity gained notoriety, with this providing the diversification of the specificities of engineering, which became an urban profession. The association between Science and Technology (C&T), growth and economic development became evident in the Juscelino Kubitschek Government (1956-1961) which were outlined in the Economic Development Plans (PND) u2012 for Juscelino and Jango represented the political continuation of former President Getúlio Vargas, only interrupted by the civil-military coup, on 31/3/1964. Indicating a new way of governing, but the guidelines for the industrial sector with technological incorporation, investments of public budgets for the expansion of infrastructure, especially in transport and energy should not fit setbacks. With foreign capital participating through the installation of multinational companies, which worked in the segment of the manufacture of durable consumer goods, intermediaries and capital (FERREIRA et al., 2017, p. 35-36).

With the Government of the military boards there was a rupture of public policies, redirecting the priorities. In the 1980s and until at least 1995, there were no structural investments in the country due to uncontrolled inflation, internal and external public indebtedness and political instability. At the close of the 20th century, the State began to structure the university system to train professionals with higher education in order to meet the requirements of specialized labor in the productive sector. In 1996, the Law of Guidelines and Bases of Education (LDB) of No. 9,394 was updated, in accordance with the Constitution of 1988, with the incorporation of the characteristics of the American model for undergraduate courses. Some examples for curriculum modernization for university courses:

a) direct link between education and labour market needs;

b) stimulating university-company interactions;

c) basic cycle with common core composed of interdisciplinarity, especially in the first four semesters;

(d) technological courses and,

e) credit and enrolment scheme by disciplines.

During the exception regime there was disorganization of the teaching staff and abandonment of the facilities, with ideological persecution of educators and lack of resources for educational policy. In the second half of the 1990s, university recomposition began with: a) incorporation of the departmental system; b) creation of the open teaching career and exclusive dedication regime; c) expansion of higher education by increasing the number of vacancies in public universities and massification of private institutions, including university extension courses and, d) technical and administrative depoliticization of higher education. Thus, knowledge is increasingly specialized with diversified orientation (FERREIRA et al., 2017, p. 36).

Sociological theory introduced in the 1950s the concept of generation[4] that refers to a group of people who share, throughout life, traditions, culture, experiences of historical and social life. They experience a similar stage of life, predispose to a common modality of thought and behavior. The demographic census conducted in 2010, by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), showed the existence of more than 18 million young people (18 to 24 years) in the country, representing 10.22% of the total population, this portion that becomes a target audience of business strategies marketing, media, consumer and leisure industry (2012), because each age group tends to demand an aggregate of goods and services , and after consolidation and professional stability the propensity to buy is higher (BRANCO; MELLO, 2020, p. 6).

The period understood for a generation is not watertight the sociological and economic parameters is twenty years old, one may be greater or lesser, what differentiates is the paradigm shift in the routine of most people, as Generation Z may have been born from 1995, synonymous with digital natives, with visceral dexterity with computers, internet and smartphones. It is the young people who are arriving at university, from 2015, with different characteristics, motivations, skills, concerns and learning styles from previous generations. Even though it was born in a period of expansion and economic growth, according to the records of gross domestic product (GDP), with successive advances between 2003 and 2013. The new comers from universities, have no illusions about their job prospects, and should return their skills to entrepreneurship, independence, the vision of insertion in an economy of global bases.

In the educational field, the new century brings a generation of digital and multitasking students unable to sit listening to a teacher for a long time, as he considers inconceivable the possibility of memorizing information. Parallel to the technological revolution is neoliberal economic policy, with the appreciation of the unproductive economy financial investments that do not create new technologies or generate new jobs, and the toyotista production model of 2012 the supply of products will never be greater than demand, which results in the decrease of products in stock, stability in the price of good and unlikely drop in the profits of investors u2012 , spread unemployment and precarious work all over the globe. However, economic growth presupposes the increase in productive capacity and can be triggered by: a) technical advancement; b) increase in the volume of capital and the workforce and, c) discovery of new natural resources. How is expected to increase the quality of life of the population in the long term (BRANCO; MELLO, 2020, p. 3-4).

According to the Federal Council of Engineering and Agronomy (CONFEA) Engineering is composed of several specificities, just to name a few of them: civil, environmental, computing, control and automation, electrical, mechanical, oil, production, chemistry, telecommunications, software, food, energy, forestry, aeronautics, bioenergetics, biomedical, production, systems, materials, sanitation among others. Areas of knowledge of fundamental importance to society, as they are indispensable for economic development. From the perspective of the National Confederation of Industry (CNI) one should not maintain the current scenario of engineering education in Brazil, with curricula aimed at training an engineer to compete in a global market. Disregarding the local needs and the unemployment crisis that should be discussed in the academy, with propositions to overcome or attenuate it (ARANHA; SANTOS, 2016, p. 2).

The recommendations made by CNI, are not recent, at least ten years ago, calls for the reformulation of the programmatic content of engineering courses in Brazil, calls for innovation of undergraduate curricula that start from the central administration of the Ministry of Education (MEC), pointing out a misstep between the work plans of the engineering departments of Brazilian universities and the competencies of professionals required by the productive sector. One must honor the formation of people with creative minds, innovative and able to face the new challenges of organizations. As a contribution, they indicate the possibility of experiencing Problem-Based Learning (ABP) seeking to involve bachelors in the development of entrepreneurial skills, self-directed studies, ability to listen, argue and solve problems (ARANHA; SANTOS, 2016, p. 3).

On the other hand, the National Institute of Educational Studies and Research Anísio Teixeira (INEP), the body responsible for conducting the National Student Performance Exam (ENADE), in the socioeconomic questionnaire u2012 Engenharia Grupo I, year 2011, wanted to know from the trainees about the linking of programmatic content with professional performance, with the indication of four alternative answers: a) contributes widely, 50.5% of the respondents; b) partially contributes, 41.2%; c) contributes very little, 7.4% and d) does not contribute, 0.9%. The students’ view is of adequacy, with half of the respondents indicating that the curricular subjects are in tune with the knowledge indispensable for the exercise of engineering and more than 40% partially evaluated.

Active learning involves a set of participatory actions that occur from the construction of meanings by the student, as an incentive to group work, oral presentations in the classroom and, the development of projects in connection with the performance in the labor market, which favors the integral constitution of the bachelor’s degree. In Brazil, research groups in Science, Technology and Society (STS) work predominantly in science education. Engineers play a key role in processes by generating ideas and solutions that turn into new technologies. Having active participation in the continuous improvement of products and in the management of methodologies, aiming at Research, Development and Innovation (PD&I) activities (ARANHA; SANTOS, 2016, p. 7)

The dissemination of the needs of the industrial segment, represented by the CNI’s managements, on the training of engineers will depend, preliminary, on the training of the teaching staff and evaluation of the appropriate pedagogical perspectives and, in view of the context found, to make their didactic choices. Having the clarity of the challenges that materialize in the daily classrooms of Brazilian universities, making sure that present efforts will promote the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that should be fully valid in more than ten years, when engineers will be working in the labor market and contributing to the economic development of the country. As much as it is believed that the general training is not meeting the demands of the contractors, it should be considered that a specific activity may be obsolete in a short period of time (FERREIRA et al., 2017, p. 41).

Nadja Cabete (2020, p. 13) stresses that pedagogical curricula of engineering courses can no longer be something concrete and traditional, although knowers that should not change constantly, because there is a flow of students according to the number of vacancies offered every six months, with a minimum of ten semesters for the completion of the bachelor’s degree. It may cause disorders for students in the case of adaptation of disciplinary grids, and the course is essential. As is noticeable, the concern to reconcile curriculum content with the needs of the labor market is noticeable. This we conceptualize as:

Companies and institutions that require or absorb the work of these professionals, or even as employers, because it is from the social imaginary that the professional graduated in engineering is ready to enter this relationship of purchase and sale as a dealer capable of offering their potential to perform the work to possible buyers of this merchandise, these, in turn, would have their needs met by the effort of the work of this professional.

The active methodologies take the student from an inapetente position making him responsible for the construction of knowledge and the teacher acts as a mentor indicating the preferred method aiming at the most efficient learning. The educator of higher education should not focus on the fulfillment of the program or with the forms of evaluations, due to the free character of pedagogical practice, with effective extracurricular activities, in order to better prepare the training for professional life, increasingly unstable. The tutor is in front of a class of more independent and autonomous bachelors (generation Z), with smartphone in his hands and questioning in the mind. However, upon leaving university they will face the world of work with high rates of unemployment, outsourcing, informal occupations, autonomous activities and entrepreneurship (BRANCO; MELLO, 2020, p. 9-10).

The historical process requires humanistic training so that future Brazilian engineers have critical sensitivity, as stresses Ferreira et al., (2017, p. 38) “in relation to the social and environmental issues incorporated in technologies, bringing them closer to a more realistic view of the social nature of C&T and the political role of specialists in contemporary societies. ” Research in STS is interdisciplinary, making up a connected domain between different areas of knowledge, with an emphasis on history, mathematics, philosophy and sociology. It is also worth mentioning that the construction of a national development agenda that inevitably involves the revitalization of engineering to operate in strategic areas such as: heavy construction, hydroelectric, oil, roads and housing, which should expand the offer of courses specialization, maintaining the bachelor’s degree with basic training.

University education should provide proactive and transversal performance, capable of enabling the person to act with autonomy, leadership, cooperation, creativity and resilience. In the phase of professional performance should count on the possibility of work on weekends and vacations; in addition to confronting real and unusual problems. As the person must be predisposed to act as a team and develop sociability, maintaining self-sufficiency for invention and decision. The political, economic, pedagogical and cultural contexts show a convergence in the sense that learning is formed by solid theoretical foundations allied to the practice of daily work, through internships. Because society is inserted in a technical-scientific-informational environment, where university professors, for example, do not have curricular time to realign basic knowledge or digital inclusion of the student. It needs to assimilate the programmatic content in the appropriate series, indispensable to follow the subsequent school curriculum and be prepared to enter the labor market, when it is convenient (BRANCO; MELLO, 2020, p. 12-13 and 15).

The structuring of the engineering curriculum in Brazil occurred through the Resolution of the Federal Council of Education (CFE) No. 48, of 4/28/1976, which fixed the minimum contents, including the menus of the disciplines, the duration of the course and the qualifications of the undergraduates. As indicated by the basic core structure of general training disciplines, and another diversified, which included professional coating themes and specific topics. The current guidelines are in CNE/CES Opinion No. 1, of 1/23/2019, with restructuring of curricula, the inclusion of a series of activities associated with the content of the courses, indicating the organization by competencies and the culture of the technological era. Preferring not to fix the themes of the disciplines, but enunciates areas that should meet a robust training with chaining of the subjects for the best use of bachelors during graduation.

In view of the reality that undergraduate students were born in the Knowledge Age and skilled with ICTs, which requires the training of university professors to capture the educational potential by combining knowledge with digital platforms to take advantage of the time they are at the university to a solid structure aiming at professionalization. However, generation Z is aware that it is essential to update learning, through specialization courses, or even constant studies on the area in which they are working. The tradition of the last century, when the competences were valid for ten years or more, does not correspond today, the theoretical knowledge will have to accompany the practice during the working life of the engineers (CABETE, 2020, p. 5-6).

The instrumental and performative characteristics that direct a training by skills and competencies that are increasingly channeled to the work market of engineers. It is observed, in the National Curriculum Guidelines (DCN) of engineering courses, with innovations in understanding the role of engineers in the areas of civil construction, in the industrial sector, as in entrepreneurship. The state authorities and the administration of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) unify efforts to provide students with a generalist, humanist, creative and reflective training, with:

a) common core of basic training with 30% of the minimum workload;

b) general vocational nucleus with 15% minimum workload;

c) the other specific contents, 55% that should be chosen and divided according to the interest of each HEIs for the specific training.

The new curriculum guidelines for engineering courses – which are currently being discussed in all universities, higher education centers and class entities representing different niches of the economy – propose that curricula meet the following requirements:

a) raise and guarantee the quality of engineering education as a fundamental factor;

b) allow greater curricular flexibility so that educational institutions can, in addition to training with quality, also innovate in their training models and,

c) reduce the dropout rate and increase student retention in engineering courses. (CANDIDO et al., 2019, p. 127).

The most recent understanding is that students actively participate in the learning process, through teacher / student interaction in practical laboratory or field activities. What can facilitate the practices and the dynamization of the teaching-learning process, guaranteeing better results. With this, the teacher is no longer the center of knowledge irradiation and becomes the pedagogical mediator in the classroom; The educator is responsible for motivating and facilitating the learning of the topics, demonstrating the importance of the theme, coupled with convincing the students of the relevance and usefulness of the subjects covered in the classroom or in other spaces intended for practical experiences that must be part of the infrastructure. of HEIs (CANDIDO et al., 2019, p. 129).

The Federal Government is attentive to the needs of the effectiveness of third-degree education through specialist teachers in teaching. Thus, it has encouraged research in strategic areas that have already presented results, noting that university educators had a degree up to the last degree provided for in the LDB (law 9.394/1996), but in professional activity and not, specifically, in teaching. In view of this verification, law 12.863/2013 was sanctioned, which makes mandatory, for the career of the higher teaching of federal public institutions, the title of doctor with own training for teaching.

Especially, for the engineering areas, the engineer-teacher specificity has already been structured, as a career, losing the vocation of complementing income or secondary activity of the professional. Making it evident that there is a branch within the area, with academic training for the teaching activity. An educator must have solid knowledge and mastery of a specific specific content, combined with pedagogical knowledge to develop content. Didactic performance is essential so that the information is understandable to students and is able to attract attention to the importance of the topic addressed. There is a major challenge for the educational system, which is to prevent students from abandoning the course, according to INEP data, in 2018, 38% of university students dropped out of their studies before graduation, with an estimated loss of order of R $ 17 billion / year (CANDIDO et al., 2019, p. 131).

According to MEC registration there are more than 800 HEIs in operation in the country, duly authorized to teach the bachelor’s degree in engineering. Data from the 2018 Census of Higher Education confirm the regular flow of students in engineering areas, with 1,170,660 students enrolled, with a growth of 13.85% compared to the previous year. With 163,310 graduates in the same year, with an increase of 12.92%. Specifically on civil engineers, 52,730 bachelors held ENADE-2017, which is a prerequisite for obtaining the diploma. Estimates are that 60,000 civil engineers complete graduation each year (MEC/INEP, 2019).


Between 2004 and 2013 there was a period of prosperity for the construction segment, according to the Brazilian Chamber of Construction Industry (CBIC), in the period 141,415 construction companies were created in the country, totaling 223,773. In 2014, a task force of the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office (MPF) was created in Curitiba-PR, with the participation of the Federal Police (PF) and the Federal Court (JF) linked to then federal judge Sérgio Moro, called Lava Jato. In order to investigate alleged irregularities involving people linked to the administration of Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. (Petrobras) u2012 publicly traded company (corporation), having as majority shareholder the Union u2012, which caused an abrupt fall of the segment of the heavy construction industry, reaching the largest national construction companies (CBIC, 2020).

The cartelpractices, payment of bribes, electoral financing with return through benefits with public resources and the illegal measures perpetrated by these entrepreneurs are known to Brazilians, at best, since the 1950s. It is a set of actions originating from the so-called Republic of Curitiba, but the protagonism multiplied for several states and offices of the JF and MPF, with elements of arbitrariness and state practices of exception, the evidence indicates that it was a political project of a circumscribed group of public servants in non-elective positions (Pinto et. al., 2019, p. 122-123).

The indications are that Lava Jato served the interests of a national political elite and foreign companies, especially for the exploration of oil that was researched by Petrobras in the pre-salt layer of the Brazilian coast. In June/2019, numerous interchangeable dialogues were published between members of the group messaging operation in the Telegram web application, even though all rights enforcers did not denied any word of what has been published to date:

Lava Jato had strong support from foreign government agencies, especially the “Bridges” project, promoted by the U.S. embassy, which included courses on financial crimes and money laundering, with classes held by U.S. and Justice Department experts. Judge Sérgio Moro was one of those who took this course, which had activities at the consulate of Rio de Janeiro. The same judge has a very controversial course throughout the operation. Highly awarded by globo organizations and the Brazil-United States Chamber of Commerce, the lawsuit against former President Lula, which includes a series of visits, trips and lectures abroad, especially in the United States. The implementation of this agenda interferes with domestic policies of the countries and serves to open markets for transnational capital, breaking down barriers that unite local capital to state apparatus in peripheral countries (Campos, 2019, p. 137).

Petrobras has always prioritized investments in deepwater research, exploration and exploration of oil. In 2006, the fields of the pre-salt layer of the Brazilian oceanic coast were discovered, with significant oil deposits, and may elevate the country to the rank of having one of the ten largest reserves in the world. Experts in the field say this was the biggest revelation in the global oil segment in the last fifty years. Pedro Campos (2019, p. 142) stresses that

with the technology developed by Petrobras, the wells began to be explored. At the end of 2018, the cost of pre-salt exploration has been around US$7.00 a barrel, at the end of the same year, pre-salt came to account for 58% of all national oil production.

The gross revenue of the fifty largest national construction companies in 2013 was more than R$70 billion, and around R$37 billion were spent directly by the Government and had more than 3 million employees. In 2015, the same companies had a gross revenue of around R$ 40 billion, with R$14 billion coming from the wastecase. The number of workers has reduced to just over 2 million, according to data from the Brazilian Chamber of the Construction Industry (CBIC). However, it was not only the companies investigated that were hit, but the entire construction production chain slowed down; indirectly until private investments were weakened by market image issues. President Dilma Rousseff inaugurated her second term on 1/1/2015, however, in practice she did not rule in this task, with the installation of a political crisis, the National Congress made any measure of economic adjustment impossible, causing paralysis of the executive branch, culminating in the removal of the president on 4/17/2016 (Ferreira, 2016, p. 49-50).

The construction companies investigated by Lava Jato had prominence in the national business scenario, the main activity of the groups: Odebrecht was petrochemical; Andrade Gutierrez, telecommunications; Camargo Corrêa was one of the largest Brazilian conglomerates, with shares in the cement, textile and footwear sectors. Remembering that they were contractors with labor absorption of the most varied levels of education and specialization u2012 from less qualified and without school education to professionals with the highest training u2012, the measures implemented by the operation caused unimaginable damage to employability (Pinca; Rozzetto, 2018, p. 55).

Construction companies such as Odebrecht, Andrade Gutierrez, Camargo Corrêa, Queiroz Galvão and OAS made asset sales of their groups and began to face serious problems with creditors; followed applications for debt restructuring and bankruptcy. As an example, Andrade Gutierrez has already held the position of the second largest construction company in the country, but in 2016, it no longer had a positive balance sheet and counted losses of R$ 169 million. Odebrecht grew associated with Petrobras, it was the construction company that had its first contract with the state company in the year of its foundation, in 1953, when the oil company’s activities were concentrated in northeastern Brazil. The Lava Jato operation destroyed the construction companies that worked in the major works, as reflected negatively in the production chain of the construction segment that has more than 97 activities involved in the supply of supplies and services (Jorge, 2018, p. 28).

Inevitably, generating high unemployment with the layoffs carried out; to illustrate the total unemployment in 2014 was 6.8 million people, going to 11.8 million in 2016, according to a publication by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), responsible for the National Household Sample Survey (PNAD). Passing the predominance of the Brazilian economy to the primary-export accumulation regime; the direct causes of this crisis are linked to the effects of operation Lava Jato, political instability and the change of the economic model to neoliberal, according to the decision of President Michel Temer and the team (Campos, 2019, p. 128).

The consultancies Tendência and GO Associados estimated that Operation Lava Jato contributed maleficably between 2.0 and 2.5% per year in the falls of 3.8% and 3.6% of GDP in 2015 and 2016, respectively. As it is no longer about ventilations, but findings of the collaboration between the United States Department of Justice and the task force of the Republic of Curitiba, according to Pinto et al. (2019, p. 129)

Lava Jato sheds light on the connection between external and internal interests. The first information would have come from the U.S. Department of Justice passed on by the NSA, which spied on Petrobras for being interested in deepwater exploration of the pre-salt layer.

Lava Jato generated the decline of Brazilian construction groups and openness to the entry of international companies.

In 2017, the construction company China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) u2012 appointed as a member of the third largest engineering group in the world u2012, bought the Carioca Concremat. The Administration of President Bolsonaro signals with privatizations in the segments of banks, electricity, sanitation among others; of interest on the part of foreign groups, especially the Chinese. With all the damage caused to national conveniences, the most affected branch was oil and gas; the primary target of greed by foreign companies, the American, European and Asian oil companies, in favor of Brazilian contractors (Campos, 2019, p. 141).

Faced with the sudden change in the construction production chain, it covered the personal projects of civil engineers and the perspectives of future professionals who were still at the university. With the growth of the sector in a continuous and imposing way since 2003, there was no evidence that it could have discontinuity and, much less, sharp decline. However, it became a reality for Brazilians, with precariousness and devalue of work in general, in particular, the offerors of labor in the economic segment of construction.


The professional engineer is a person with a profile of versatility and knowledgeable of the exact sciences, such as mathematics and physics, with multi-skills, which makes him versatile to pursue various paid occupations. The person who chose civil engineering as a profession, begins training in the bachelor’s degree that can be considered long, with a minimum of five years only at university. Which indicates that when completing the course the student is already in adulthood, it is natural to be linked to the possibilities of finding employment as soon as possible. In the event that employability is not favourable, as Neiva (1996, p. 205-206) points out: continuing studies or entering professionally, the type of employment and the specific professional area in which you want to work.” What can be a welcome alternative to improvement courses, since the desired profile is with solid general knowledge and at least a specificity with robust domain.

Faced with the challenges that civil engineering professionals are facing after operation Lava Jato and, in 2020, with the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, uncertainty affects humanity. Psychologist Katia Neiva researched the effect of unemployment and the difficulties that people experience, especially recent graduates in the expectation and anxiety of entering the labor market. It affects the psychological well-being of individuals, causing adverse reactions and symptoms, because the person needs to talk to other unknown people, participate in interviews and selection processes. The candidate may have depressive symptoms, a state of mind that negatively affects the potential of those who are looking for a job, as Neiva (1996, p. 204) describes: “the unemployed tend to have lower self-esteem, develop depressive symptoms and apathy; be less satisfied with life and with low professional motivation; with reduced capacity to make decisions and attribute unemployment mainly to external causes.”

When the productive sector cannot absorb much of the available labor, discrimination is more evident, including Frio and Cechin (2019, p. 65) classify in three general types: a) discrimination of the employee (u2012) he prefers to work only with people he does not discriminate; b) discrimination of the employer u2012 they see the salary (cost) above the monetary value to be paid and, c) discrimination of the client u2012 when they see people they despise, add to the cost of the product the dislike. This can cause more disadvantage to a group of people, regardless of their technical training.

Unemployment is great for any candidate for a job, but the challenge is even greater for recent graduates, added to the reality of: political, economic and sanitary crisis, with discrimination and criticism aimed at young people inexperienced in the career of civil engineering and, with record for women. Since 2015, in Brazil, the demand is for male engineers, aged between 35 and 59 years, evidencing that the economic segment of construction prefers professionals who have experience in the activity. It is worth noting that, in 2011, for the first time, the number of tickets in the engineering degree exceeded the postulants to bachelor’s degree in legal sciences. The General Register of Employees and Unemployed (CAEGED), of the Special Secretariat of Social Security and Labor (SEPT), linked to the Ministry of Economy (ME), shows that since 2014, the difference between admitted and dismissed engineers has been reversal, with an increase in layoffs (Lorenset et. al., 2020, p. 2-3).

The labor market, in general, charges professionals’ experience, this attitude interrupts the natural flow of the training process to work, since recent graduates should be hired by employers, as assistants of a veteran professional, so that they can acquire the much valued practice. It is believed beneficial for all who share their knowledge, a post-university student can contribute with new methods, which the experienced may not yet know. Brazilian engineers working in the private sector are composed mainly of white men who occupy more than 80% of the jobs. Similarly, self-styled whites have more than 75% of job openings (FRIO; CECHIN, 2019, p. 62).

The data show that the engineering environment is unfavorable to women and non-whites. In the segment of construction, electricity and agriculture organizations, their participation is between 13% and 15%. Given this reality, the engineer’s work may be subject to triple prejudice, for the sake of gender, skin color and inexperience culture. Society, in the middle of the second decade of this century, values man as a leader of the family and head in the workplace. The women, still, have not achieved the deserved credibility in activities related to paid work, even though it is undeniable that they are thorough in the analysis and execution of projects, excellent in defining designers, ability to assimilate with excellence the client’s aspirations, among other female potentialities (Oliveira et al., 2020, p. 23-24).

The sectors with the lowest gender inequality are in the specificities of environmental and chemical engineering, the only ones where women have more than 25% of the vacancies occupied. On average, females are remunerated for their work with a disadvantage of 25% compared to that of white men in the same function; non-whites minus 18% compared to those. The median salary of the white engineer is R$ 34.81 per hour/worked, while the woman in the same position is R$ 28.16 per h/t (11.6% in favor of men and 12.2% attributed to discrimination). In the lower range of fees, they get R$ 11.36 h/t and white men R$ 14.73 h/t (FRIO; CECHIN, 2019, p. 63).

Law 4.950-A, of 4/22/1966, indicates the salary floor of civil engineers entering typical occupations, must correspond to 6 minimum wages for a work day of 6 hours daily and 8.5 to 8 h/d, for undergraduate training. However, those engaged in mid-level occupations tend to achieve much lower hourly pay. The regulated professions currently regulated 57 are more structured and, as determined by item V of Article 7 of the Constitution/1988, there should be “salary floor proportional to the extent and complexity of the work”, which ensures basic value, regardless of the structural contingency of the economy.

Economic expansion or shrinkage are the factors that most impact the employability and income levels of families. By compiling information from various state indicators, it is verified that the employment relationships of professionals in the year following their graduation, declared in the Annual List of Social Information (RAIS), in ENADE u2012 organized in three-year thematic cycles and, in the Brazilian Classification of Occupations (CBO). Recent engineering graduates, only 31% get immediate allocation. Recent studies in the area of neurosciences ensure that there is no direct relationship between the grade achieved by the student during the course attended and employability, such as the remuneration of his work soon after leaving the university, because there are other forms of learning and training that are not captured by the performance in the tests (Maciente et al., 2015, p. 10).


From the information accessed for the present study, it can be seen that the employability of civil engineers was highly reaper so since 2014. Abruptly interrupting a growth period of approximately thirteen years, due directly to the role of operation Lava Jato. In the wake of economic globalization, large Brazilian contractors were competing in the transnational market, bringing technology developed internally to other countries, especially Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. With excellent prospects for the growth of the labor market for professionals working in the construction production chain.

Political instability has repercussions in all sectors of the economy, especially when they demagogically make disastrous choices, such as the so-called 2017 labor reforms, the 2016 PEC spending ceiling (popularly the PEC of death) and social security in 2019, which irreparably harmed the working class. The marketing propagated by the media and corporate corporations has not confirmed a benefit at all, but the indexes show that no job has been created and actuarial projections indicate that a negligible portion of Brazilians will be able to retire for contribution time or age.

The repercussion of Lava Jato by the end of 2018, with the entry into force of the so-called labor reform (Law 13.467/2017) did not contribute to the generation of jobs and, obviously, there is no possibility for the workforce to negotiate the bases of contracts directly with the employer on equal terms. What occurred was the precarious value of the labor force, which society called urberization:

Among these practices is the formalization of the prevalence of negotiation on legislation. These new companies have taken the lead in the contemporary process of replacing traditional service providers by connecting through digital applications, consumers and services the hope of solving social problems from fleeting illusions based on the discourse of entrepreneurship of strong individualistic appeal. Among his mantras and platitudes, one of the most recurrent is the possibility opened by these new markets to be the entrepreneur of himself. This ideological narrative camouflages the relationship between employee and employer, as in the case of Uber drivers and other transportation apps.

This economy based on sharing, be it travel, real estate, deliveries, among other specific services, promises greater social integration among people, which would break the great monopoly of companies already consolidated in the market (Iora, 2019, p. 35).

Urberization synthesizes the fragility of labor relations, not only in Brazil, but around the world, where some companies are trailing and transnationalized. On the other hand, individual entrepreneurs work up to 16 hours a day and cannot even support their families, contribute to social security and have access to credit lines for home ownership. Iora (2019, p. 41) emphasized that

there are no employment relationships between the workers and the Uber company, the company is tax-free because its payments go straight to the Netherlands. Brazil is Uber’s second largest market; the first is with the U.S., with activities starting in 2012. Uber had revenues of $959 million in 2018.

The company’s nomination is illustrative only, as it is the successful employer model for the past five years.

The company does not consider its drivers as employees, but rather, as: employees, partners, self-entrepreneurs of itself. According to IBGE data, via Continuous PNAD, in December/2019, the country had 1,125,092 application drivers, with the lack of formal jobs people register, with temporary intentions, to ride as a driver, until the crisis passes or find another occupation. Data collection showed that delivery and transportation apps are the largest “employer” in Brazil. The precariousness of work is based on outsourcing, including the end of companies area, which was legalized under the 2017 labor reform (IBGE, 2019).

The last publication of RAIS was with data from 2018. The scenario indicates that there are approximately 400,000 engineers who are unable to work in the area in which they graduated, but have not detailed the specifics and where they are concentrated. According to PNAD / IBGE, position Dec. 2019, it indicates 94.552 million employed Brazilians, of these 38.806 million working in the informal sector, which represents 41.4% of people who make up the Economically Active Population (PEA), without any social insurance. As there is a significant number of people who gave up looking for a job – a discouragement survey -, totaling 5.7 million workers. To complement the information, according to SETP / ME, on the Unemployment Insurance portal, it is reported that 536,844 people applied for this right, with payment in February / 2020 (ME / SETP, 2020).

The information purposely refers to the end of 2019 and, at most, until February 2020, because on 11/3/2020, who reported that the coronavirus pandemic was in progress, which began to change the routine of the world, with the indication of quarantine (lockdown) as the main measure to contain the spread of the virus. This is a fortuitous case event that cannot be predicted or avoided, the first case of infected in the country, was registered by the Ministry of Health on 26/2/2020. Given the reality of the pandemic, public policy planning cannot be carried out, at most, focusing on emergency programs, meeting the recommendations of social isolation (OPAS BRASIL, 2020).

On the training of engineers and, in particular, civil specificity, it is still ongoing, with the vacancies available and the number of bachelor’s graduates who are within the regularity prior to 2015. As indicated by INEP, the immediate concern of the educational system is the students’ withdrawal during graduation. The data are comprehensive, with indication that the exact courses have a greater number of students who leave, but without highlight for those in civil engineering. The institutions are facing the escape of students with reinforcement in the didactic professionalization of educators, through a prerequisite for entering the teaching career of federal institutions, which can be followed by all HEIs in the country. As they are constantly reviewing the programcontent of each course to adjust to the reality of the labor market and attractiveness for candidates with the availability of the most advanced technology in colleges (MEC/INEP, 2019).


Brazil is classified as belonging to the peripheral nation block high concentration of income, limited human development, low quality in education and health, infrastructure in progress, having as characteristic depend on public policies for the financing of programs and projects that can provide expansion of the economy and production factors. By analyzing the contingency of the profession of civil engineer in the period between 2015 and 2020, it confirms the dependence of resources originating from public budgets to boost employment and income of a large portion of the population.

In the case of the construction segment, the greatest negative impact was the performance of the disastrous Lava Jato operation pursuing large contractors operating in the heavy engineering segment, with multimillion-dollar contracts with public companies, such as Petrobras and the major infrastructure works planned by the three spheres of state: the Union, Member States, the Federal District and municipalities. It was noticed the unpreparedness of some members of the MPF who investigated and judicialized cases and, the magistrates who decided to penalize companies (CNPJ) and not administrators who did not comply with the law.

The objective of this study focuses on the analysis of the training and employability of civil engineers in Brazil, it can be seen that, undoubtedly, with the instabilities present in the central power of the country, directly harms the economic segment of civil construction. Since 2015, with high unemployment in all occupations, the case of engineers was more impactful due to the high cost of training, with expectation of higher pay, which is not the case, because they were hit by several factors that converged in unemployment: deindustrialization of the country, low government investment in infrastructure, labor reform that prioritizes the agreement between worker and service taker , pandemic caused by Covid-19 among other structural factors. As a part, the value of the workforce of civil engineers is too low or obsolete.

The lack of investments in public universities, imposed since 2016, has not yet impacted the functioning of institutions, which should occur briefly due to the change in social security, with a large number of retirements of teachers and employees of the educational system; since vacancies must be occupied by new servers, with increased spending. As private HEIs can be affected by general unemployment and families are unable to continue paying student tuition and also by not renewing scholarship funding programs through public resources. In 2020, the two semesters for those who study at public universities were suspended, and the postponement of selection processes such as entrance exams and the National High School Exam (ENEM).

As is undeniable the state of emergency that fell in 2020, due to the health crisis caused by Covid-19. Any prospect of a possible normality will necessarily have to go through vaccination for a large part of the population. The next step must go through robust government planning, with credit lines for companies to resume investments in the production process that is the job generator. The social and economic reality does not involve amateur actions and much less inconsistent; measures should be structural and long-term.


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4. Generation represents a group of people born in a given period and who can share common experiences in the historical and social process, such as: a) Veteran/traditional generation (between the two great wars), a group that preserves tradition and caution; in the work environment stimulated formal and rule-abiding teams, following the entire process from hiring to performance reviews; b) Generation Baby Boomers (post World War II and 1950s), explosion of babies, experienced a world of economic prosperity and great technological advances, the working day was excessive; c) Generation X (1960s and 1970s), Coca-Cola generation, experienced remarkable events for the economy and society, such as globalization, opted for a relationship of balance between personal life and work, valuing flexibility and satisfaction in the work environment, the launch of cable TV, the use of computers as a work tool and the socialization of the Internet; d) Generation Y (1980s and 1990s) witnessed in student movements and hippies a way to manifest their insatisfations, as professionals value work and seek professional ascension, being independent and self-confident; e) Generation Z (from 2000) generation of Orkut, Twiter, Facebook, among other social networks, fully integrated with technologies, valorization of virtual communication; they do several things at the same time, are connected to the digital world 24 hours a day and begin to enter the labor market (REIS et al., p. 4-6).

[1] PhD in Education, with research line in Economics of Education. Master’s degree in Law, with a line of research in International Economic Law. Scientific and Technological Indicators by CNPq (1989); Human Resources (2017); Cultural Management: culture, development and market (2018); Anthropology (2018) and Real Estate Law (2019). bel. in Economic Sciences (1986); bel. In Legal Sciences (2004); lic. in Music (2016); bel. In Science of Administration (2017); lic. sociology (2017); lic. in History (2018); bel. Accounting Sciences (2019) and, bel. In Political Sciences (2020).

[2] PhD in Education, with line of research Physical Education. Master’s degree in Applied Linguistics and Language Studies. lic. and bel. in Physical Education by the Santamarense Organization of Education and Culture (1982) and; lic. pedagogy by the Faculty of Philosophy, Sciences and Letters Nove de Julho (1984).

[3] PhD in Physical Education. Master in Educational Sciences. Planning and Methodology of Scientific Research; Higher Education Methodology; School Physical Education and Psychology of Education. lic. and bel. in Physical Education; lic. pedagogy and; lic. in Magisterium and Spanish Letters.

Submitted: February, 2021.

Approved: April, 2021.

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