Army officers increasingly are choosing the lucrative hi-tech industry as their profession of choice upon leaving the service, the Manufacturers Association of Israel said Monday, citing a 56% increase in the number of retirees entering the sector in 2005.
"Senior officers are in particular demand," said Yoram Blizovsky, managing director of the Association (MAI).
According to the MAI, it has become ever more understood, especially among hi-tech firms, that when soldiers come out of the army, "they will exit with the appropriate training demanded by the industrial sector."
Analysts, meanwhile, believe that those retirees above the age of 40, who already are guaranteed recipients of IDF pensions, can find themselves even more financially viable in their new professions than their civilian colleagues, despite never having worked outside of a military framework.
"Hi-tech companies hire veterans precisely because they are experienced at operating very large systems and are able to transfer their technological army experience to technological civilian expertise," said Rami Rosen, a technology analyst at Oscar Gruss & Son.
He believes the increased flow of veterans into the technology field could be due to more positions and opportunities reserved for those with experience with advanced technology, such as military systems.
He also stressed the organized culture of the army being effective in the business environment.
"Everybody knows that the IDF is very technological. Now take the best engineers and the best programmers and let them speak with investors in a variety of presentations. It's a very strong business advantage."
Rosen noted, for example, Shlomo Dovrat, who served, in the elite intelligence Unit 8200, went on to found the Carmel Ventures group, and then achieved superstar status in the communication technology sector. Aside from his famed $210 million sale of Oshap Technologies to American firm SunGuard Data Systems, Dovrat founded The Dovrat Group and currently serves on the boards of other hi-tech companies.
Indeed, Rosen noted that in recent years, it has been touted widely that the mere number "8200" has come to signal great opportunity for both Israeli and foreign investors. Intelligence Unit 8200, as well as air force veterans, have set up some 30 to 40 hi-tech companies, including five to 10 that eventually moved on to Wall Street.
Outside of technology, however, other businesses faced declining inflows from the IDF, according to the MAI, including the security industry, down 22%; the chemical industry, off 15%; and the building and commodities industries, falling 5%. The percentage of army retirees accepted into the textile industry was unchanged. The overall percentage of army retirees entering the general industrial sector rose by 23% in 2005 from 2004.