Weaknesses in education and difficulty in incorporating innovations compromise digital competitiveness

Brazil remained in the 51st position in the Digital Competitiveness 2021 ranking, the same ranking obtained in the previous year. The novelty, in the fifth edition of the ranking, is that we improved our position in the “Knowledge” item, due to the advance in scientific concentration and training. The analysis also focuses on two other indicators: technology and future-readiness.

Prepared by the International Institute for Management Development – IMD, in partnership with Fundação Dom Cabral – FDC, the analysis compares sixty-four countries in relation to the conditions to adopt, create and promote digital technologies in the public and private sectors. In 2021, the survey reinforced the importance of adaptability to new virtual tools, which minimized the impact of social distancing caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ranking reveals that Brazil has advanced in indicators such as knowledge and technology. However, it retreated in the analysis that measures the level of preparation of the economy to incorporate innovations, which is identified as future-readiness. In this regard, the way the country dealt with the economic and sanitary effects of the pandemic and the occurrence of cyber-attacks also weighed heavily. Last year, the country ranked fifth in the incidence of ransomware and registered a reduction in the number of broadband service subscribers, which went from 89.2% of the population to 75.7%, largely due to the economic reflection of Covid-19.

Education and skilled labor are obstacles to overcome

The analysis highlights issues such as deficiency in education. Implementing technology resources is still a challenge for schools. According to a survey conducted in June 2021 by the Lemann Foundation, only 3.2% of Brazilian schools have Internet access to an international standard, that is, with adequate speed.

Another obstacle is the country’s lack of capacity to attract and retain skilled labor. In the 2021 Global Competitiveness report, also prepared by IMD, Brazil ranked 44th among sixty-four countries in terms of brain drain.

Among the positive aspects, the analysis highlights the increase in investment in the telecommunications sector and, especially, the auction of the 5G frequency at the end of the year. With this, the country offset part of the difficulties and limitations by keeping its position unchanged.

The Digital Competitiveness ranking is led by the United States. Among the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), Brazil was only ahead of South Africa. Among the Latin American nations, it was in second place, only behind Chile.