Amdocs, Comverse retirees recruited as teachers

Finance, Educations Ministries working to attract vetern hi-tech employees considering retirement or facing layoffs from firms such as Amdocs, Rafael.

By GLOBES CORRESPONDENT
January 17, 2011 21:50
3 minute read.
Hi-tech employees meeting together.

computers 311. (photo credit: Newsgeek.co.il)

 
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Quite a few teachers would not hesitate for a moment to exchange their job conditions for a monthly salary of tens of thousands of shekels, a company car, lunch coupons and other pampering enjoyed by hi-tech employees. While it seems unimaginable that anyone would chose to go the other way, the Finance Ministry and the Education Ministry believe that such people exist.

The two ministries are working on a special plan to attract veteran hi-tech employees who are considering retirement or facing layoffs from companies such as Amdocs Ltd., Comverse Technology Inc. and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. to take up teaching as a second career to teach technology subjects related to their previous work.

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Finance Ministry director-general Haim Shani and Education Ministry director-general Shimshon Shoshani are overseeing the program, in which candidates will undergo a meticulous selection. Suitable candidates will take an abbreviated six-month teacher-training program at a university, which will be chosen by tender.

During the training period, the participants will learn the tools of the trade of a schoolteacher alongside practical experience in the classroom. The two ministries hope that the first hi-tech teachers will begin teaching in the upcoming academic year.

“Most people working in hi-tech do not reach retirement age and retire from the industry early,” Shani said. “We found many such people who retired under various circumstances – cutbacks, layoffs, etc. – and who feel the need to contribute and seek an opportunity in teaching as a second career, even if not in a full-time position.

“I personally know such people, such as a manager of a development team at a large hi-tech company who now travels from central Israel to Sderot to teach there, and a project manager who is a math teacher.”

The advantage of the current program is that hi-tech veterans won’t have to take a full two-year training course to become teachers, but will undergo an abbreviated intensive six-month course, he said. The program is based on lessons learned from a similar program that has been operating for two years, most importantly a special jobs-placement program for graduates.



In the previous program, some graduates could not find a teaching job. The current program will include school principals in the initial sorting committees, who will promise to hire graduates of the training course.

“With this program, we want the teachers of computers, electronics and other technology professions to be people who were there,” Education Ministry information and technology administration director Ofer Rimon said. “There’s a limit to what a teacher who never worked in industry can impart to the pupils. But when you take an engineer who worked at Check Point Software Technologies or Intel Israel, the teaching is different.

“We have wonderful teachers in the system, but when you bring to a school a teacher who was an engineer, he can be an anchor linking the school to industry outside. He can also learn from other teachers how to teach and control a class. There’s a reciprocal dialogue.”

Shani said the Finance Ministry would allocate tens of millions of shekels for the project over the next few years. The current stage is a pilot project to test the program and the response to it.

Rimon said part of the budget would be used to encourage early retirement of science and technology teachers. “It’s not smart to just bring in good people; you also have to remove the people who are exhausted,” he said.

Shani, himself a veteran of Israel’s hi-tech industry as CEO of NICE Systems Ltd., is aware of the problems that could arise for people whose monthly salary plummets from tens of thousands of shekels to a few thousand shekels. The program proposes a monthly grant of NIS 3,000 for the first three years of teaching for program graduates. The grant will be partly based on the teacher’s seniority at his or her former workplace.

“People don’t become teachers for the money,” Shani said. “Obviously, no one will work for nothing, but no one expects to earn salaries like in hi-tech.”

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