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Brazil has set up a new programme to provide jobs for young science and technology postgraduates, more than half of whom are out of work.

Capes — one of the main state funding agencies — launched the programme in response to its finding that 60 per cent of recently qualified postgraduates have no permanent job, due to a lack of both new positions in universities and in the non-academic market.

The Programme of Temporary Absorption of Doctors (ProDoc) will give fellowships to young scientists to enable them to work in graduate programmes throughout the country. The aim is to provide a bridge for the permanent integration of young scientists into the national system of graduate programmes.

Initially 125 fellowships a year will be offered under the programme, up to a total of 500 fellowships. But this is just a small proportion of the 6,000 or so students who obtain doctorates in Brazil every year.

"The offer is unambitious, but it shows other funding agencies what should be done in this area," says a biochemist who helped create the programme, Jorge Guimarães, a researcher at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul and a member of the Director Board of the Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science.

According to Guimarães, young postgraduates in areas such as law, computing, dentistry, surgery, engineering, economics and other applied social sciences can find jobs relatively quickly.

"Unfortunately, the young postgraduates who work in science and technology usually have more difficulty incorporating themselves into the labour market," he says.

There is still a lack of science and technology professionals in Brazil, he says. "We need to multiply our scientific capacity at least fivefold." At present, there are 165,000 researchers in Brazilian universities; about two thirds of these do not have even a Masters degree.

Applicants for the Capes fellowships should be less than 40 years old. The fellowships are offered for a maximum of four years, and provide a wage of 3,000 reais (about US$1,000) per month, three times the PhD fellowship value. Capes also offers 12,000 reais per year in research expenses per young postgraduate.

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