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'Plenty of Jobs', Says Top Israeli Industrialist

While unemployment soars in the U.S. and Europe, many Israeli companies are having a very hard time finding workers.
By David Lev
First Publish: 8/25/2011, 2:13 PM

If you're looking for a job,  Shraga Brosh, chairman of the Israel Industrialists Association, has good news for you. Despite fears of another global recession, the Israeli employment picture remains bright, says Brosh. There are plenty of jobs available, and anyone who is still looking for one is just not looking hard enough. Calling Israelis “a little too spoiled,” Brosh said in an interview that a full 82% of companies belonging to the Industrialists Association said they were having a hard time finding workers. The Association is the largest business lobby group in Israel.

With that, Brosh said, he understood how the technology gap was contributing to the problems of both individuals and companies in finding jobs and workers, respectively. Today, even blue collar jobs required a high level of technological knowledge, since so many systems were run with sophisticated computers. Many of those searching for jobs are older workers without the necessary technical skills, and many of the workshops and courses that are supposed to be preparing them for jobs are not accomplishing their goal efficiently. With that, the rewards for those who do manage to pick up the necessary skills are substantial. “Many of the jobs that are going begging for workers pay between NIS 15,000 and NIS 18,000 a month, and the average worker in Israeli industry makes NIS 11,000. These are salaries that could certainly sustain a family,” Brosh said.

The current unemployment rate in Israel is 5.6%, near a historic low. While some fear that the possibility of a worldwide recession could impact Israel negatively, Brosh says that Israel has been facing a shortage of skilled workers since at least 2007, when 83% of companies reported trouble finding skilled workers. Even in 2009, at the height of the recession, that figure stood at 60%, said Brosh. The figures show that the greatest demand is in the electrical and metalworking industries, where 91% and 89% of companies respectively report having difficulty in finding workers.

Zvika Oren, chairman of the Workers' Committee in the Industrialists Association, said that “despite the high salaries, there are many reasons why blue-collar jobs like these go begging, mostly due to the poor image of these industries, which many people don't realize have changed significantly. And image is a problem that can be dealt with; ten years ago, people were ashamed to say that they cooked food for a living, and today everyone wants to be a chef. With all the talk about high-tech and low-tech, we have forgotten that the basis of industry is actual labor, with smart 'hand-work' as important as 'brain-work,'” Oren added.