Israel launches ’emergency human capital program’ for tech sector

The Israel Innovation Authority and the finance and economy ministries have launched an “emergency human capital stimulus program” for the high-tech sector in light of the surge in unemployment levels caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The program aims to incentivize training workers and helping them find jobs in the tech sector.  It will offer grants to employers and professional training providers who run programs to train and recruit employees in research and development (R&D) positions and R&D support roles. As a result of this new program, about 3,000 employees will receive professional training within the coming year, the Israel Innovation Authority said in a statement.

The idea is to provide grants of NIS 25,000 to NIS 45,000 ($7,300-$13,000) per worker to training firms or tech firms that seek to train at least 10 workers for a period of up to 12 months.

To be eligible for the grant, the firms will need to make sure the workers get employed within six months of the end of training, for at least for six months, explained Anya Eldan, VP at the Israel Innovation Authority and head of the Startup Division, in a phone interview. Most of the grant, 75%, will be provided when the employees are hired following their training.

Anya Eldan, the head of the Startup Division at the Israel Innovation Authority (Courtesy)

“There are hundreds of thousands of people looking for jobs,” Eldan said. Of these, there are some 150,000 workers with academic and technical training who could be retrained to suit the needs of the tech ecosystem, she said.

The coronavirus pandemic has halted economic activity in Israel as the nation has imposed a second lockdown to fight record levels of infection. According to the Israel Employment Service, some 936,712 people have filed for unemployment as of Sunday, of whom 595,667 are workers who are on unpaid leave.

The new training program is not necessarily for the new workers to become programmers or engineers – a process that can take years – but to give them the digital skills they need to become an active link in the digital transformation that has been speeded by the coronavirus, where more and more firms and activities have moved online to help maintain social distancing, Eldan said.

“There are a lot of new professions that need digitally trained people,” Eldan said. Someone with a degree in economics, for example, can be easily trained in digital sales, she said, or to provide technical support or quality assurance.

The emergency program is a response to the severe employment crisis induced by the coronavirus pandemic, and forms part of the recommendations made by the employment taskforce headed by the director general of the Economy and Industry Ministry, the Innovation Authority said in a statement on Sunday.

The taskforce identified an urgent need to offer relevant employment opportunities to hundreds of thousands of high-potential jobseekers, including academics and university graduates.

The new program will provide support for jobseekers in various technological fields, such as IT and Quality Assurance, (SDR, DevOps), as well as for R&D and cyber professions, the statement said.

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Written by Aakash Malu


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