In a policy directive for the Israel Innovation Authority, Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology Orit Farkash Hacohen has for the first time set goals for significantly increasing the representation of haredim (ultra-Orthodox Jews), Arabs, women, and residents of Israel's periphery in the country's technology industry.
The policy's two main goals are to deal with the manpower crisis in high-tech, and to introduce additional population groups into the industry.
This is the first time that the government, led by the Minister of Innovation, has set significant numerical targets for reducing the under-representation of population groups. The targets for the period 2022-2023 are interim targets, to be enforced by the Innovation Authority. While long term goals are now being set, in the light of the dimensions of the crisis, the minister says that she has decided not to wait for future budgets before taking action.
The interim goal is to add 24,000 employees to the high-tech industry, through programs of the Israel Innovation Authority. The plan calls for 45% of the new employees to be women, and for at least 4,500 of them to be drawn from the Arab population and 2,800 from the ultra-Orthodox population. An additional 3,000 workers at least will be people returning from abroad through the Returning Israelis Program and new immigrants. At least 30% of the additional employees will be from the periphery of the country.
The intermediate goal is to add 180,000 workers to the high-tech industry by 2026, which means increasing manpower in the industry by 50%, while doubling the number of ultra-Orthodox and tripling the number of Arabs in the industry.
Among other steps that Farkash-Hacohen has taken are simplifying the visa procedure for experts, tax benefits for high-tech workers who return to Israel from overseas, an IMPACT Program for the Arab community, and the creation of a task force headed by the VP of Intel to help solve the manpower problem.
Long-term goals will be specified after the work of the inter-ministerial team established by the minister is completed.
"I see great importance in integrating populations that are under-represented in the hi-tech industry today: women, the ultra-Orthodox, Arab Israelis, and the integration of residents of the periphery residents in the industry," Farkash Hacohen said. "We must make sure that the success of high-tech in Israel will not be a divisive factor in Israeli society. On the contrary, it is an opportunity to reduce social gaps in Israel.
"In the last eight years, there has been no real increase in the number of women working in the industry. We must change the particularly low rate of ultra-Orthodox and Arab Israelis in the industry. Finally, we must change the equation so that the chances of an Israeli child entering the high-tech industry will not be dependent on where he or she grew up. This program does just that."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on February 24, 2022.
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