‘Israel running out of geeks,’ global hi-tech firms fret

If Israel wants its children to be ready to tackle the kinds of jobs that will be around in the future, it will need to boost its education and invest in diversity measures.

By
October 18, 2015 22:56
2 minute read.
IATI

From R to L, IATI CEO Karin Mayer Rubenstein, EMC Israel GM Erez Tsur, Chief Scientist Avi Hasson, Microsoft Israel GM Manager, and former Intel Israel CEO Mooly Eden. (photo credit: CHAIM BACHIR)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

Israel’s future as an innovator and research center for the world’s biggest tech companies is in peril due to a shortage of “geeks,” according to members of Israel Advanced Technology Industries, an association of hi-tech and life-science industries.

“If we do not address them, these challenges will lead to our demise in hi-tech,” said Yoram Yaacovi, the general manager of the Microsoft Israel R&D Center and chairman of IATI’s multinational corporation forum, which took place at the Hewlett-Packard offices in Yehud on Sunday.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


The “geek shortage,” he said, was already apparent, as Israel struggles to fill positions for engineers.

Only half of Israeli schools offer a full five-unit mathematics course, while undergraduate students studying science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields had fallen from 8.3 percent in 2001 to 5.7% in 2013.

Israel’s Arab and ultra-Orthodox communities, which are slated to represent half of the population by 2059, are even further behind in STEM education, Yaacovi said. Just 2,200 Arabs worked in hi-tech last year, representing roughly 1% of the field.

Arabs comprise about 20% of Israel’s population. The number of haredim who work in the field amount to a rounding error, he said.

The problems will affect Israel’s hi-tech industry and its economy as a whole, said Erez Tzur, the general manager of EMC Israel and the event’s cochairman.



If Israel wants its children to be ready to tackle the kinds of jobs that will be around in the future, Yaacovi said, Israel will need to boost its education and invest in diversity measures.

Being that Israel does not open its doors to skilled migrants from countries such as India and China leaves it with fewer options than its competitors, he said.

“Are we ready to do that? I don’t think so, as a country,” Yaacovi said. “But eventually we might have to.”

The gathering is a show of muscle for Israel’s hi-tech industry, which hopes to keep the heat on the government for solving medium- and long-term problems that will affect the industry.

“This is the only gathering of its kind in the world,” IATI CEO Karin Mayer Rubinstein said, noting the presence of general managers from some 80 leading R&D centers in Israel.

Vinod J. Devan, a consulting partner at Monitor Deloitte in Palo Alto, California, struck a brighter note.

“Israel is the only place that has a constant, consistent reputation of delivering not just in R&D, but in innovation,” he said.

Big companies, Devan said, should use their research and development departments to drive their missions and not simply execute their preexisting goals. That dynamic, he said, could make Israel a more important player at the table of the world’s biggest tech companies.

Related Content

Workers strike outside of the Teva building in Jerusalem, December 2017
December 18, 2017
Workers make explosive threats as massive Teva layoff strikes continue

By MAX SCHINDLER