There is a severe shortage of trained technicians in the marketplace, representatives of the IDF and industry told the Knesset Education Committee on Tuesday, noting that at least 5,000 more technicians were needed. The shortfall comes amidst a general cut of 30 percent in technical education budgets, according to a report prepared by the Knesset Research Center and presented at the meeting. In addition to the budget cut, the number of those enrolled in technical tracks has dropped to 37% from its recent height of 52%. The IDF said it was forced to train 35%-50% of its personnel for technical positions. The report also noted that placing lesser-achieving pupils in technical tracks created large social gaps. The authors of the report did a comparison study between Israel and other countries worldwide and found that elsewhere, pupils with good grades were also encouraged to apply their talents to the technical realm. In OECD countries, 46% of graduates from the education system were from the technical tracks. In the EU, that percentage was even higher, at 65%. In Israel, it was a low 37%. The report also noted that a successful Education Ministry program to close those gaps did not have funding at the moment to continue next year. Committee chairman Michael Melchior (Labor) ordered a committee set up to draft a five-year plan to improve technical education.