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Israel Embarks on $6.2 Million Program to Train Arab-Israelis for High-Tech Industry

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Participants at the DLD Tel Aviv Digital Conference, Israel’s largest international high-tech gathering, held at the Old Train Station complex in Tel Aviv on Sept. 6, 2017. Photo: Miriam Alster/Flash90.

Israel announced the launch of a $6.2 million program to boost the number of Arab-Israelis employed in the high-tech sector as the country suffers from a shortage of skilled workers.

The grants will be awarded to companies, corporations and NGOs to cover a maximum of 70 percent of their costs for developing programs and models to help further integrate Arab-Israelis into the high-tech industry, the Israel Innovation Authority and the Economy Ministry’s Directorate General of Labor said in a joint statement on Thursday.

“The Arab population in Israel has huge unexplored growth potential, and integrating it into the broader Israeli economy, and especially the tech industry, is the key to narrowing socioeconomic gaps and ensuring sustainable economic growth,” said Israel Innovation Authority CEO Dror Bin.

The Innovation Authority already has 14 dedicated training and placement programs for the Arab sector, Bin added.

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Overall, Arab Israelis make up 21 percent of the country’s population, yet their percentage within the tech industry is only 2 percent to 3 percent.

One in eight non-Haredi Jewish men aged 25-35 work in tech compared with only one in 52 Arab men and one in 118 Arab women, said Tair Ifergan, director of the labor branch at Israel’s Economy Ministry.

“This joint call to tender will promote new programs and solutions to meaningfully scale up and expand the percentage of Arab Israelis employed in the tech industry,” Ifergan added.

Over the past year, Israel has trained more than 100,000 people through its professional training and studies at technical colleges for practical engineers, to integrate students from diverse communities, according to Ifergan.

“The present call to tender therefore aims to expand the models and programs for training and integrating STEM and other tech-adjacent subjects into the tech industry,” she said.

Companies competing in the tender will need to propose models to find and filter candidates, including assessment and mapping; improve access to the industry for human capital within Arab minority communities; expose potential candidates to work opportunities; and fill gaps in professional knowledge and training for potential candidates with a relevant background.

Earlier this year, Israel announced a decision to raise the quota of work permits for Palestinians from the Gaza Strip by an additional 2,000, taking the total to 14,000. The expansion is part of a government plan to gradually allow a total of 20,000 Gazan workers into Israel as the security situation allows.

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