High-tech managers often complain about the dearth of successful engineering and science graduates. The companies believe that this phenomenon begins in high school, or even in middle school, when not everyone who is skilled in the subjects chooses to study them at a level that would allow them to successfully go on to study them at university.
Today, ten major Israeli companies and international high-tech companies that operate in Israel announced that they will work to improve the situation, beginning in high schools. Specifically, they plan to increase the number of pupils who take bagrut school matriculation examinations in five units of math. The partners in the project are: Intel, Sandisk, Marvell Israel, Microsoft, IBM, Qualcomm, Red Hat, Amdocs, eBay, and Philips.
The venture is run by Sheatufim, which specializes in establishing and running inter-sector programs, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, the Rashi Foundation, the Trump Foundation, and various educational institutions. More than 100 entities are involved in the project in one way or another.
The project is called 5times2, because it aims to double the number of students who study five units of math, though the target for the first year is a 15% increase.
Under the plan, students will receive the following benfits: meetings with engineers from the companies, visits to the companies, lectures in the schools by company managers, and other benefits led by volunteers from the companies. This is not the first time these companies have engaged in such a venture, together, or independently. Sandisk, for example, said that, even before the program, the company met with 1,500 students each year.
Sandisk Israel CEO Shahar Bar Or said, “As part of our program to give back to the community, we decided this year to focus on fostering excellence in the sciences, and encouraging students to keep studying five units of math. We do not yet have data showing the precise effectiveness of the project, but we have received phone calls from certain schools that indicate a rise of 20%-40% in the rates of students who study five units of math.
“Today, the system encourages students to reduce the level of their math studies to four or three units, because schools want to improve their bagrut pass rates, but eligibility for bagrut is the most misleading measure. The bagrut is the lowest common denominator, and it does not guarantee the future. Even a bachelor’s degree doesn’t. Rather what's neded is a quality bagrut that includes math and science studies, followed by a degree for which there is demand in the post-technological-revolution world.
“We tell students in the schools, particularly those who are skilled in math and science, that there is a vast surplus of accountants, lawyers, and people working in finance, so many that they have a hard time finding work, and even have a hard time finding a decent internship, and they can end up earning minimum wages. On the other hand, the need for scientists and engineers is growing.”
You know what they will say, right? Why should someone who could be a wonderful professor of history, and enjoy it, strive to be a miserable, mediocre engineer?
“Of course, the entire population cannot and need not be made up of engineers. And, of course, we need good literature, and good art, but we must separate between a passion that one can express as a hobby, and a profession from which one can make a living. I too enjoy reading, and I would like it if more people read books, but not necessarily study literature. I am more troubled by the fact that there aren’t enough people who go to the theater than the fact that that there aren’t more theater students.”
Intel Israel Corporate Affairs Director Bella Abrahams said, “Our economy has many legs, not just high tech. When there is a local crisis, international companies are stable, and that is why we need to strengthen them, but the opposite is also true. When there is a crisis in high tech, we also need other sectors to be stable. Our message in this project is that when you choose to study five units of math, you simply buy a key that opens more locks in the future. Not all the partners in the project are high-tech companies. There are also entities from the sciences and social organizations. We're not doing this only for the benefit of the high-tech industry, but so the next generation will have many more employment options.”
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on October 22, 2014
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