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Israel: Tech Workers Wanted

January 10, 2008. www.redherring.com: Neal Sandler
Demand for technology workers continued to rise in Israel’s high-tech industry in 2007, according to a report.

A survey from Manpower Information Technology on Thursday reported a 2.3 percentincrease in the final quarter of the year. For the entire year demand was up by over 2 percent.

The survey by the Tel Aviv-based firm, a subsidiary of Manpower Israel, found that demand was particularly strong for programmers and project managers where growth was three to four times the industry average. There are already shortages in engineers in key fieldssuch asJava, J2EE, dot.net, RF, VLSI, and DSP.

“The trend remains upbeat with demand for new workers continuing strong in most segments,” MIT CEO Erez Benovich said. He predicted that this was likely to continue for at least the first two quarters of 2008 and then would depend on the economic situation in the U.S.

There has been increased concern in recent weeks that a recession in the U.S. would affect the local industry. The consensus view is that Israel’s high-tech industry would be hit though probably would suffer less than in 2001 due to the growing importance of other markets particularly the Far East.

The increased demand for workers in the past year has also led to a 5 percentrise in wages in the local high tech industry. Despite the increase there is still a substantial wage differential compared to the U.S. and some European countries. “The cost of an Israeli engineer is still about three quarters of his counterpart in the Silicon Valley,” said Moshe Zviran, a Tel Aviv University management expert who tracks high tech manpower. By contrast wages are about three times higher than in India and China. Mr. Zviran noted that salary levels in the local high tech sector have been rising by over 5 percentfor the past three years.

During much of the 1990s mass immigration from the former Soviet Union kept wages in the high tech industry in check. But immigration has largely dried up in recent years and the supply of new workers is coming almost exclusively from the country’s academic institutions.

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