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© Felix Wagner
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Why look so far away? Novel approaches to the search for international skilled workers

The search for qualified skilled workers is increasingly becoming a major problem for companies across all sectors. According to the “Skilled Labour Radar” of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (“Arbeitskräfteradar der WKÖ“), 82% of Austrian firms are experiencing a lack of skilled workers and labour shortages in their business operations. Irrespective of any economic slowdowns, the problem will become more acute due to demographic reasons alone. A broad range of measures is required to ensure a sufficient pool of qualified employees in the future, including the increased mobility of employees willing to work in Austria. Here is where ABA can play a role. Through WORK in AUSTRIA, we bring together Austrian companies and qualified skilled workers from all over the world. 

Focus on Brazil – young, educated and mobile 

In searching for international skilled workers, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Economy (BMAW), the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKÖ) and the Austrian Business Agency (ABA) are working closely together with domestic companies. In this regard, we are also treading new paths, both with respect to the selection of target markets as well as the actual measures. Brazil is an exciting market on which we are now more intensively focusing. We travelled to Brazil on a fact-finding mission in November 2022 together with the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber. We quickly realized that the young, well-educated and mobile population of the largest South American country with about 215 million inhabitants offers extensive recruitment potential which can be leveraged by employers in Austria. This particularly applies to companies operating in the fields of IT, technology and electrical engineering, which can only fill their vacant positions in Austria with difficulty. 

Brazil and Austria in comparison 





~ 215 million 

~ 9 million 

Unemployment rate 



Average age 

33.2 years 

44.5 years 

Average gross income 

USD 8,140  

USD 56,140 

Willingness to work abroad* 



Hours of sunshine per day 




Sources:; *BCG study “Decoding Global Talent, Onsite and Virtual 2021”, percentage of interviewees in the country who already work abroad or are willing to move abroad to work there.  


Targeted and innovative approach via a hackathon 

Soon the idea was born to carry out an initial test to target suitable skilled workers and specialists in Brazil and call attention to job opportunities in Austria within the context of a hackathon. In May 2023, we already actively promoted our initiative at the Web Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Even at that time, the interest displayed in Austria was overwhelming and our exhibition stand was almost besieged by visitors. Perhaps this has something to do with the historic ties between Austria and Brazil. For example, Maria Leopoldina of Austria married the Portuguese Crown Price Dom Pedro, was a driving force behind Brazil’s independence and later Empress of Brazil.  

With the energetic support of the Foreign Trade Centre in San Paulo of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKÖ), the hackathon was jointly implemented by ABA and the WKÖ at the beginning of September 2023 in collaboration with an experienced local provider in Brazil. Close to 120 Brazilian students and young professionals were selected from 330 applicants and participated in the 24-hour event. Austrian companies had the possibility to take part as cooperation partners and thus gain access to Brazilian IT specialists and gain convincing, first-hand evidence of their abilities. At the same time, they could position themselves as attractive employers to this aspiring target group. The cooperation partners of the hackathon were the publicly listed companies AT&S and Infineon as well as the Association of the Austrian Electrical and Electronics Industries (FEEI) and the Austrian Professional Association of Management Consultancy, Accounting and Information Technology (UBIT).  

The winning team from Brazil visits Austria  

The winning project was named within the context of the hackathon. It was entitled “Welcome to the Energy Revolution with SunCredit!” The five-person winning team succeeded in putting together an impressive concept within 24 hours and also prepared a corresponding video. The first prize was a one-week trip to Austria (first week of October 2023) with plant tours of the cooperation partners as well as networking meetings.  

Within the course of the week, the Brazilian guests visited FEEI as well as Silicon Austria Labs (SAL) in Graz, AT&S in Leoben and Infineon in Carinthia, among other activities. The five Brazilian team members attained a convincing insight into the qualities of the business location and domestic companies.


Showing what we have to offer 

The Brazilian guests as well as the participants in the hackathon have not had Austria on their radar screens up until now and were actually quite surprised to see what this country has to offer. In addition to the innovative strength of the companies and the many global niche champions, they were quite impressed by features such as public safety, a functional public transportation system, or just the fact that one can simply drink normal tap water without a problem – things we take for granted most of the time. They recorded their impressions of the week spent in Austria in a self-made video. On the very first day, it was obvious that they would be the optimal mouthpiece in Brazil to promote Austria as a business and work location. In other words, they would serve as our “ambassadors.” In turn, we were extremely impressed with the high qualifications, openness and motivation of our guests. These are qualities from which Austrian companies can considerably benefit.  

WORK in AUSTRIA supports Austrian companies and international skilled workers 

The “trial balloon” in Brazil showed how extensive the potential in Brazil is as well as the prevailing interest in Austria. Patience and sufficient resources are required to achieve success in attracting a larger number of skilled workers from Brazil to work for Austrian companies. In this respect, a key role can be played by establishing partnerships with technical universities, working with local multipliers, implementing a targeted communications strategy as well as expanding the offering of German language courses. Once interest in Austria has been aroused, we provide further support based on the services offered by WORK in AUSTRIA: 

  • Job Platform – searching for an Austrian employer 

  • Immigration Guide – for an initial assessment of immigration options 

  • ABA Immigration and Residence Services – for support in obtaining the Red-White-Red – Card – assistance available to companies, skilled workers and their families 

  • Relocation Services – questions relating to the issue of living and work in Austria: schools, healthcare system, taxes etc.  

Austria has a lot to offer such as an excellent social security and healthcare system, security and stability as well as a high purchasing power and outstanding quality of life. Targeted, innovative and longer-term activities are needed as a means of making international talents aware of Austria as a work location in the first place and to set ourselves apart from the competition. Our hackathon, which, by the way, was entitled “Samba meets Waltz”, only served as the kickoff event. 

Feel free to contact us if your company is also interested in international skilled workers! We will consult you free of charge. 

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