What do haredim have to do with Israeli high-tech? Evidently a lot, when we consider the high-tech industry’s major HR shortage, and that the haredi community is an untapped resource that can meet this growing need.
This was the purpose of the haredi high-tech conference held at the Jerusalem Waldorf Astoria on Wednesday. The conference, organized by Bizmax – Achim Global’s Jerusalem business hub, established with the Kemach Foundation and the Jerusalem Development Authority – brought together 1300 HR managers, executives across the high-tech industry, and officials promoting haredi integration in the workforce.
Increasing haredi integration in the workforce has been a top priority. Indeed, over the last decade we have seen significant improvement in haredi employment. But increasing employment isn’t the full story. As Professor Eugene Kandel, CEO of Startup Nation Central wisely noted at the conference, it’s specifically high-tech that will bring the haredi community to financial stability, because the salaries – even entry-level ones – are double that of other industries. He noted further that the haredi demographic, with the right training, can be an asset. Israel’s high tech industry numbers 330,000 employees. Over the next decade, 100,000 more will be needed, and already now there is a pressing need for an additional 15,000 software engineers. Although presently haredim comprise just over 1% of the high-tech industry, they comprise over 10% of the population and so their HR potential is enormous.
CEO of the Israel Innovation Authority Aharon Aharon explained that long term, without haredim high-tech will be insignificant. Executive Chairman of JVP Erel Margalit echoed these words, saying that “Israel must decide if it wants its high-tech employees in Bnei Brak or in Kiev,” noting that if Israel doesn’t implement strategies to maximize haredi human capital, hundreds of thousands of software development jobs will be outsourced abroad. “We can create 100,000 jobs in high-tech in the coming decade, of which haredim can obtain a significant share. Thus, high-tech can be the greatest bridge between secular Israelis and haredim.”
President and co-founder of Achim Global Marc Schimmel noted that the Israeli economy has grown enormously and now has ample opportunities for foreign investment. “As Israel changes, so must the perceptions and actions [of Diaspora Jewry]. We should be investing in businesses and future high-tech employees.” He stated further that “we’re not looking to change haredim, rather to give people who are ready and willing to work, the training to do so and earn well.”
Chairman of Achim Global Motti Eichler stated that the solution is simple and already here: “Achim is bridging the skills gap among haredim. All that’s needed is the willingness and openness on the part of high-tech employers.”
Itzik Crombie, CEO of Bizmax summed up the conference, saying “We know that Israel’s high tech industry is the major driver of the country’s economy. Equally, we know that the haredim are the fastest growing sector in the country. The two must work hand in hand to ensure a thriving economy for Israel.”
(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)