Demand for hi-tech workers stable but still low [pg. 17]

Demand for hi-tech workers stabilized in October against the previous month but the number remains far below the level of requests seen before this summer's war in Lebanon. "The October level is still 11% lower than the level of requests in June 2006 before the war broke out," said Idit Padan CEO of human resources company MIT Israel, citing results of the firm's monthly survey of help-wanted advertisements in the Hebrew press. MIT reported that its Manpower Index rose 0.7% to 107.3 in October compared with the previous month. However, the index dropped some 2.5% if compared to October last year, when it stood at 110.1. Padan added that although the October index showed stability regarding requests for hi-tech workers, it was still too early to mark a change of trend into the direction of growth as the figures still pointed downwards if compared with the same period last year or before the war. According to the MIT survey, demand for managers in October dropped 17.4% and was 38% lower than in June before the war. Separately, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor reported that demand for workers in the business sector dropped 18.7% in the third quarter of this year compared with the previous quarter as the repercussions of the war weighed on the labor market. The number of available jobs, excluding construction and agriculture, stood at a 34,800 daily average compared with 42,700 in the second quarter. The survey carried out by the Research and Economics Division of the ministry was based on an analysis of a sample of 2,500 companies in Israel. The ministry pointed out that the data for the third quarter showed that the war had a negative effect on the demand for workers across the country and in particular on the North. As such, the ministry estimated that the number of jobs would have grown by 3,600 - mainly in the North - if the war had not taken place. Across the country, the number of occupied positions dropped 2.7%, while in the areas of conflict in Haifa and the North the rate of occupied jobs fell 25.9% in the third quarter.