Traditional industry outgrew the hi-tech sector at the end of 2005, reversing the recent trend of greater growth in hi-tech, the Manufacturers Association of Israel said Sunday. Manufacturers President Shraga Brosh reported 2.5 percent growth in industrial output, including from the mining and quarrying, nonmetal mineral, rubber and plastics, food, textile and metal sectors, while output from hi-tech grew 1.7% from October to January. "We are quite satisfied with the level of growth in both sectors, but this is the first time we've seen such strong development in traditional industry," Brosh said. "Our hope is that the trend will continue, and we call on the new government to pass the 2006 budget immediately in order to ensure continued economic growth and reduction of unemployment." Despite the faster growth rate in industry, Brosh said the hi-tech sector absorbed more workers during the period, and that growth in its labor force was higher than its industrial counterpart. Data showed that the hitech sector brought in 1,100 workers, representing an increase of 1.2% of its labor force, compared to a rise of 0.8% in the third quarter. Industry absorbed 600 new workers between October and January, boosting its work force by 0.4%, showing slower growth than the 1.2% increase it had in the preceding period. Separately, the Israel Exports Institute said Sunday it expects deals worth approximately $20 million over the next three years, to result from the hi-tech delegation that traveled to Italy last week. Israeli technology companies including Check Point, Cyber-Ark, Lynx Photonic Networks, PineApp Ltd., Safend, Verint, Radware, Aladdin Knowledge Systems, ControlGuard and PortAuthority Technologies are all expected to sign deals with Italian companies Telecom Italia and WIND following the visit, for joint projects in the telecommunications and information security sectors. Israeli exports to Italy reached $53m. in 2005, the Export Institute said, showing an increase of 33% from the previous year. Over 250 Italian companies participated in the Israeli delegation's weeklong visit.