Israel’s tech sector faces challenge from shortage of workers

Author: 
Reuters
ID: 
1544949605447997300
Sun, 2018-12-16 08:37

TEL AVIV: Israel is struggling to recruit enough workers to its
technology sector, a report showed on Sunday, creating a challenge
for an industry seen as the country’s main potential driver of
economic growth over the next decade.
Start-Up Nation Central, which published the report with the Israel
Innovation Authority, said that while the number of high-tech
workers in Israel had grown over the past five years, their
percentage of the labor force remained unchanged.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that the required growth will
not be possible if the country’s supply of tech workers is
inadequate,” said Eugene Kandel, head of Start-Up Nation
Central
“Tech companies are struggling to find tech professionals, with
many already finding (them) overseas.”
The number of tech workers — who earn more than double the
average wage — grew to 280,000 in 2017 from 240,000 in 2013 but
represent only 8 percent of the workforce, down from nearly 10
percent in 2008.
This is surprising given that investment into high-tech has soared,
with venture capital funding exceeding $5 billion in 2017 and
closing in on $6.5 billion this year. The number of multinationals
operating development centers in Israel jumped to nearly 350 in
2016 from around 50 in 2000.
The sector accounts for about 45 percent of Israel’s exports. But
about 15,300 positions remain open.
To find workers, Israeli companies are opening development centers
overseas, mainly in Ukraine but also in the United States, Russia
and India. Several dozen firms have also taken advantage of a rapid
process established by the government in 2018 to obtain special
visas for foreign tech workers.
But in the long term more initiatives are needed to increase the
pool of workers, Kandel told reporters. There is great potential
among women, who represent only 23 percent of tech workers, as well
the largely untapped Arab and ultra-Orthodox Jewish sectors.
Arabs account for only 3 percent of tech workers but this is
expected to change soon as 18 percent of all computer science
students today are Arab, similar to their share of the
population.
One obstacle for their employment in high-tech is that they live
far from the country’s center.
Aharon Aharon, head of the government’s Innovation Authority,
said he would launch two plans in the first quarter of 2019 — one
to provide incentives in building an innovation ecosystem in the
periphery and another to encourage tech companies to open branches
outside of the center.

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Source: FS – All-News-Economy
Israel’s tech sector faces challenge from shortage of workers