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DATE 2017-07-01


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DATE 2017-07-10
FROM Ruben Safir
SUBJECT Subject: [Learn] IT Jobs
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Short of IT workers at home, Israeli startups recruit elsewhere
Facing a shortage of around 10,000 engineers and programmers over the
next decade, Israeli companies start looking for foreign workers in
effort to stay on top; Government is taking steps to improve math,
science education in an effort to boost recruit numbers to the startup
Reuters|Published: 26.06.17 , 23:28

When Alexey Chalimov founded software design firm Eastern Peak in Israel
four years ago he knew he would not find the developers he needed at home.

Follow Ynetnews on Facebook and Twitter

He went to Ukraine and hired 120 people to develop mobile apps and web
platforms for international clients and smaller Israeli startups.

Employee at website-designer firm offices in Tel Aviv (Photo:
Employee at website-designer firm offices in Tel Aviv (Photo:

"I worked for years in the Israeli market and I knew what the costs were
in Israel and I knew there was a shortage of workers," he told Reuters.

Driven by startups, Israel's technology industry is the fastest growing
part of the economy. It accounts for 14 percent of economic output and
50 percent of exports.

But a shortage of workers means its position at the cutting edge of
global technology is at risk, with consequences for the economy and

The government's Innovation Authority forecasts a shortage of 10,000
engineers and programmers over the next decade in a market that employs
140,000. Israel has dropped six spots in three years to 17th in the
World Economic Forum's ranking of the ease of finding skilled technology

The shortage is particularly painful for Israel's 5,000 startups which
compete for talent with development centers of technology giants such as
Google, Intel, Microsoft and Apple. They offer big incentives that a
startup cannot afford.

Wix offices (Photo: Reuters)
Wix offices (Photo: Reuters)

Israel will lose its edge if the shortage isn't tackled, said Noa Acker,
head of policy at the societal challenges division at the Innovation

"Salaries will be very high and the industry will shrink to only very
high level R&D while much of the work will be exported," she said.

Math lessons, boot camps

The main reason for the shortfall is a sharp drop in the number of
computer science, math and statistics graduates, down from a peak of
3,000 in 2005 to a low of 1,600 in 2008.

This is partly due to problems in secondary and primary schools where
lack of funding means some classrooms do not have computers and advanced
math teachers are in short supply.

"Why do we still have classes where there are no computers?" said Yifat
Turbiner, a researcher in entrepreneurship and innovation at Ben-Gurion

"If more budgets aren't allocated to generate a technological state of
mind ... from elementary school, I believe all industries will suffer,
not just high-tech."

Another reason for the shortage of computer science graduates is that
after the dotcom bubble burst in 2000 many Israeli high tech workers
lost their jobs, Acker said.

This meant that students lost interest in tech careers and university
applications declined.

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

The Education Ministry has announced plans to boost studies of math and
science, especially in high-schools outside the cities where advanced
classes are not always available. But Turbiner said initiatives are also
needed for a higher standard of math at a younger age including training
more teachers.

The government also has long-term initiatives to integrate
ultra-Orthodox Jews and Arabs=E2=80=94two fast-growing segments of the
population with low labor participation=E2=80=94into the industry.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews make up about 11 percent of the population and many
prioritize religious studies over science and math.

Military technology expertise gained by soldiers during their service
has been behind several successful Israeli firms including the country=E2=
biggest tech company, Check Point Software Technologies.

The government is also running "boot camps" of up to 18 months to train
tech workers without technology degrees.

Good connections

While the government takes steps to stimulate organic growth of workers
at home, it is also making changes to visas for a quick fix of importing
foreign workers.

The government is preparing 500 visas for students from abroad who
studied science and engineering at Israeli universities so they can stay
to work at tech firms for a year. It is also working on easing
bureaucratic hurdles to unlimited =E2=80=9Cexpert visas=E2=80=9D.

Specialists of IT company Infopulse in their office in Kiev, Ukraine
(Photo: Reuters)
Specialists of IT company Infopulse in their office in Kiev, Ukraine
(Photo: Reuters)

In the meantime, many Israeli startups are looking abroad.

Ukraine is the top destination with about 100 Israeli development
centers. A strong tradition of maths and computer science teaching that
is present in many countries in former Soviet Union countries means
Ukraine has more than 20,000 IT graduates each year.

The 1990s arrival of a million immigrants from former Soviet countries,
many of them scientists who went to work for technology companies, has
also created strong ties.

Israeli companies have also recruited workers in other eastern European
countries such as Poland and Bulgaria., which helps small businesses build websites and is one of
Israel's hottest tech companies, employs 120 workers in two development
centers in Ukraine and another 80 at a site in Lithuania.

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

"They are in the same time zone, they have a good level of English and
all are Russian speakers. Some of our people here are former Russians,"
said Boaz Inbal, general manager of Wix's development centers. "We have
direct flights to both countries. It's easy for us to collaborate and

Salaries for software developers in Ukraine are about 40 percent lower
than in Israel, said Andrey Link, an executive vice president at
Ukrainian software engineering firm Infopulse.

But he said: "The key argument in our favor is not the cost but
availability. To find 2-3 people (in Israel) is not a problem, but if
they R&D center for 100 people, it is very difficult in Israel."
-- =

So many immigrant groups have swept through our town
that Brooklyn, like Atlantis, reaches mythological
proportions in the mind of the world - RI Safir 1998

DRM is THEFT - We are the STAKEHOLDERS - RI Safir 2002 - Leadership Development in Free Software - Unpublished Archive - coins!

Being so tracked is for FARM ANIMALS and and extermination camps,
but incompatible with living as a free human being. -RI Safir 2013
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