Could retirees reduce Israel's hi-tech engineer shortage?

Filling the gap has primarily involved offshoring, hiring foreign experts and implementing measures to increase diversity in the innovation workforce.

September 15, 2019 23:58
2 minute read.
Could retirees reduce Israel's hi-tech engineer shortage?

Co-founders of Legacy Senior Solutions Noam Gleicher (L) and Zeev Leshem. (photo credit: YEHUDA SEGEV)

More than 300,000 Israelis – 8.7% of the working population – are employed in the country’s celebrated hi-tech sector.

Yet the so-called Start-Up Nation’s expansive innovation sector has grown faster than the local supply of talent, leading to an estimated shortage of approximately 15,000 skilled workers – programmers, scientists and engineers – required to fill open positions.

Filling the gap has primarily involved off-shoring: hiring foreign experts and implementing measures to increase diversity in the innovation workforce, notably by increasing Arab and ultra-Orthodox participation.

While emphasis is often placed on boosting the pipeline of young talent into the hi-tech sector, assistance may now be arriving from an unexpected source: Israel’s large population of skilled retirees.

Eager to work and use their decades of accumulated expertise, retired engineers Noam Gleicher and Zeev Leshem established Legacy Senior Solutions, an organization matching hi-tech companies and factories with retired experts.

“It is difficult when a person retires, as he suddenly sees that his value seriously drops,” Gleicher told The Jerusalem Post. “A person that managed a factory and held senior roles in one moment joins the population of retirees. He might sometimes go on hikes with his wife or go to a lecture every now and again, but he really wants to use his talents. There is a major problem with loneliness too.”

In a seemingly win-win situation for experienced retirees and hi-tech employees lacking skilled recruits, Legacy has gathered a large pool of retired engineers and scientists who are available to advise and provide professional services to enterprises.

“We have experts in all sorts of fields. Someone who has an idea for a start-up can find someone with relevant expertise so that the company can progress,” said Gleicher, a mechanical engineer with vast experience in the diamond industry. “When we established the organization, we thought the biggest problem would be to find work for the retirees. We thought companies would only want to recruit young talent, and not the old workers that have finally left. The opposite is true. Today, there are so many jobs that we can’t manage to fill them all.”

Legacy also aims to fill a gap left by the Ministry for Social Equality’s “Darush Nisayon” (Experience Wanted) program.

While Gleicher says Legacy is in favor of cooperating with government ministries and other industry organizations, he adds that he has been frustrated by the lack of progress made. Approaches are often met by the same response: “It’s a very nice idea.”

“A major problem today in Israel and across the world is life expectancy. We have more and more pensioners and will need to fund their pensions. Someone who works is healthier than someone who doesn’t work, and improves the GDP of the country on the way.”

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