Many computer-savvy Israelis have dreamed of leaving their day job and stepping into the world of hi-tech, but have often been deterred by the financial burden and time required for retraining or upskilling.
A new funding model unveiled by Tel Aviv-based Israel Tech Challenge (ITC), however, may offer a solution for those previously unwilling to jump into the hi-tech deep end.
The NGO, which aims to tackle the current shortage of skilled engineers affecting the Israeli hi-tech sector, revealed on Wednesday both its upcoming semester of training courses and a new funding model requiring zero upfront costs.
The new funding model, unprecedented in the Israeli education market, enables students to take courses under an Income Share Agreement (ISA), waiving upfront costs and only requiring repayment as a percentage of monthly income once employed in the industry and earning above NIS 14,000 ($3,878).
“We are investing in this new tuition model to remove financial barriers to career changes and upskilling for engineers or people wanting to move into the hi-tech industry,” said ITC co-founder Raphael Ouzan. “We are passionate about bridging potential and opportunity, to create jobs and fill needs in the sector. We’re going to keep looking for ways to make talent an equalizer.”
ITC is now welcoming applicants for its upcoming semester commencing in May 2019, offering students practical and employable technology training programs ranging from two to 10 months.
Courses are inspired by the IDF’s elite cyber intelligence Unit 8200 and designed in collaboration with industry giants including Intel, Apple, Samsung, Dell, Mobileye and Mellanox, according to industry needs. ITC is also backed by more than 10 strategic partners, including the Israel Innovation Authority and the Jewish Agency for Israel.
“In the four years since we started, we have placed more than 500 graduates in jobs at more than 100 tech companies across Israel,” said ITC co-founder and CEO Oren Toledano. “We are thrilled to be able to offer a new way for elite science graduates to upskill in high-tech without an upfront cost. We believe this will be key to solving the skills and talent gap the tech companies in Israel are facing.”
For the upcoming May semester, ITC is offering courses in software development, data science and hardware engineering.
Aiming to overcome the significant shortage in verification engineers, ITC recently completed a four-month pilot of its chip design verification program, partnering with leading multinational companies operating in Israel, including Apple, Samsung, Intel, Mellanox, Cadence Design Systems and Marvell. Cadence supplied the program with infrastructure, content and lecturers.
“With this unique program, ITC has demonstrated that STEM graduates with the right training and support can become qualified verification engineers, and by that helping the industry to close the huge gap of missing verification engineers,” said Sanjay Lall, corporate VP for field operations in EMEA, Cadence Design Systems. “We were able to contribute our verification solutions via the Cadence Academic Network by making use of our cloud solution, which offers flexibility and consistent performance. ITC is a pioneer in this field, and we will continue support them to excite young talents for our industry.”
According to ITC, graduates of the fellows program boast a 95% placement rate, with an average starting salary of NIS 22,000 ($6,095). Coding boot camp graduates have a 75% placement rate, with an average starting salary of NIS 14,000 ($3,878).