Israel’s emigration a cause for concern

While “brain drain” or human capital flight, is not a solely Israeli problem, new figures published Tuesday by the Central Bureau of Statistics show cause for concern.

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October 9, 2018 19:17
1 minute read.
An El Al plane in Ben Gurion Airport

An El Al plane in Ben Gurion Airport. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Israel is suffering from a serious bout of “brain drain,” the emigration of highly trained individuals from its shores.

While “brain drain,” or human capital flight, is not a solely Israeli problem, new figures published Tuesday by the Central Bureau of Statistics show cause for concern.

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According to the bureau, 33,000 or 5.8% of recipients of Israeli academic degrees between the academic years 1980-81 and 2010-11 spent at least three years living abroad by 2017.

This figure almost doubles among doctoral graduates, with 11% of Israeli PhD holders taking their knowledge abroad for at least three years. A total of 9.4% of master’s in medicine alumni also lived abroad. The United States and Europe are primary destinations for Israel’s emigrants.

PhD holders in engineering and the exact sciences are more than three times as likely to emigrate than doctoral graduates in social sciences and humanities, the data shows. Only one-tenth of higher-educated Israelis living abroad are graduates of education and teaching, law and business courses.

Far from the fields of science and engineering, more than one-fifth of Israeli music degree alumni also lived abroad for more than three years.


Rehovot’s Weizmann Institute of Science saw some 20.1% of graduates living abroad for more than three years, the highest out of all Israeli higher education institutions. At the other end of the spectrum, only 3.3% of Bar-Ilan University graduates were recorded as living abroad.

In 2010, the government launched a five-year initiative in 2010 to bring Israeli expertise back to the domestic market and benefit domestically from Israeli know-how.

At the center of that effort is the “Israel Brain Gain” program, a joint venture by the Innovation Authority, Council for Higher Education and the Absorption and Finance Ministries. The initiative operates as a one-stop shop for those considering a return to Israel.

The program, the Innovation Authority says, assists professionals and their families through- out the entire process of returning to Israel – from the early stages of job searching all the way to acclimatizing to daily life in Israel.

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