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Intel Israel: Don't just think fast, think ahead

מאי 14, 2009. Jerusalem Post: Judy Siegel-Itzkovich

Israel's most urgent need today is for the establishment of an independent body to oversee long-term planning, set strategic, long-term targets and create jobs in fields that will make it more productive, Maxine Fassberg, vice president of the technology and manufacturing group of the giant Intel Corporation and general manager of Intel Israel, said on Thursday.

In an interview with The Jerusalem Post in her office in the "Fab 28" chip fabrication plant she manages in Kiryat Gat, the South African-born, Israeli-trained hi-tech executive and applied chemist said the state should not subsidize any field that did not raise productivity.

"We need theaters, culture, literature and Jewish philosophy, as many Israelis are growing up very ignorant and have to be educated and well rounded. Students should pay tuition according to the need for their services," insisted Fassberg, "but don't make it prohibitive for the others."

Fassberg, whose Intel microprocessor chip development and production plants have 6,000 employees and have just been voted "the most desirable places to work" in Israel, went on to say that the country's basic education was good, and that the matriculation system ensured those young people admitted to university were at a decent level. Although she added that "cuts to universities are very disturbing."

She noted that Israelis were known for being good at putting out fires, but not at planning for the future. "The Chinese have a 50-year plan targeting 2020 as the year when it will be the world's number-one producer of microprocessors in world. When they set the target, they had no ability at all in this industry. Now they are buying up equipment and building factories all over the world.

"They have developed a chip that is not very good - but China is getting there and acquiring what they need to reach the target. They don't get confused; we in Israel get confused all the time. We don't have a five- or even a three-year plan. It's a problem."

After having read the headlines about agreements on the Budget Bill, but not yet having studied the document itself, Fassberg said new workplaces in targeted areas were most needed now to stop the trend of growing unemployment, in which layoffs lead to additional workplaces shutting down due to lack of customers.

"We should be defining national projects, diverting all unemployment insurance to retaining people to work in fields designated as a national priority. If not, when unemployment pay ends, people without work will be left in a worse position."

There were too many lawyers in this country, she said, so the financial burden should be put on students who want to be lawyers. "If there is no work for them now, and we continue to produce too many, we are creating unemployment. The same tuition fees should not be charged for all fields. Business administration should not be at a bachelor's degree level. Students need to learn basic science or other subjects, and later they can go for a graduate degree in business administration," she said

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