The technological colleges forum today attacked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plan to import foreign high-tech workers, saying that Israeli governments have been neglecting technological education for 30 years.
"Israel is known for the great potential of its human capital, but instead of harnessing this potential and investing in the domestic human capital, the Prime Minister is considering importation of foreign technology workers," the forum stated. "Israel has a shortage of engineers and engineering technicians, even though technological colleges are excellent mechanisms for developing human capital."
The statement continued, "The Prime Minister, who is also the Minister of Economy and Industry, forgot to mention that the state has been neglecting technological education for three decades. It shunted the technological colleges aside in a small dysfunctional corridor called the State Institute for Training in Technology and Science in the Ministry of Economy and Industry, without budgeting proper resources for investment in engineering technicians. The leaders of the colleges have been screaming their lungs out for years in an attempt to persuade the government to institute a comprehensive reform in the field. The government has made no effort, and is now talking about importing foreign workers.
"This is worthy of a Mickey Mouse country, not the startup nation."
One high-tech employee issued a sarcastic statement, saying, "Now that you have finished inflating the real estate bubble (I hope you have, anyway) to the extent that a working couple cannot afford to buying housing without mortgaging their entire future (and maybe not even then), you have come up with a new plan to destroy the earning power of the only class still able to earn a reasonable wage, given the high cost of living in Israel - importing foreign workers for this sector. Yes, I'm talking about Israeli high tech.
"This is a sector that gets rid of its employees when they reach age 45. Candidates are exhausted by three to six interviews spread over six weeks, and even more in extreme cases.
"This is a sector that poses a requirement for under 30 higher education graduates that is unique to Israel 10 years of experience in technologies that have existed for only two years.
"High-tech workers have to be available 24X7, including Saturdays and holidays, and be ready to travel overseas on a moment's notice if necessary for no material reward whatsoever.
"In high tech, one minute you can be a senior department manager responsible for systems critical for the company's very existence, and the next day, you can be unemployed because a customer canceled a deal, because the company did not meet its targets, or with no reason at all, and they don't feel like telling you why.
"It seems that the leaders of Israeli high-tech are saying there is a severe shortage of personnel, so their lobby is exerting pressure to import foreign workers in this sector, just like agricultural and construction contractors lobbies have been doing for years without results, for some reason.
"It is clear to anyone working in high tech here that this argument contradicts another argument no one wants to make: it is expensive for them to pay huge sums to local professionals, so the easy solution is to cut wages by importing Indians and Chinese.
"Now, if there is really a shortage of people, and it may be that people are really lacking in specific areas, they could have thought about dozens of other more effective solutions than importing cheap foreign professionals. Aren't they constantly telling us that a company's strength lies in its human capital?
"They could allocate some of the profits from exits, from which the state also benefits, to training workers. They could lower taxes on high-tech workers for both employers and workers. There are many possibilities, but it requires effort. I assume that among the hundreds of thousands of state employees whose salaries are paid for by taxes on high-tech workers, a few willing to try could be found.
"I don't know how accurate the headlines are, or whether they are just a trial balloon. I do know that a considerable number of high-tech employees are in tax brackets 9 and 10, which supply almost 90% of the income tax paid by workers in Israel. I may not understand economics very well, but the results of the state conspiring to push down the wages of these people are pretty clear to me. But never mind me - I'm just a know-nothing.
"Finally, before you label me a socialist and say I'm writing a political letter, put this in your pipe and smoke it: I voted for Netanyahu in the last elections. People around me told me I would be sorry, and that I would be responsible for whatever happens, but I was stubborn: only Netanyahu!"
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 24, 2016
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