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Cellular Firms Hiring, High-tech Firees Not Interested

Israel's cellular service providers are looking for manpower, but the pool of people laid-off from Israel's high-tech firms hasn't brought them the bounty they might have expected. The problem is salary - the cellular companies just don't pay the same kind of wages that the former technology workers had been accustomed to, says a headhunter. "The Israeli job-seeker is spoiled, and unlike in the past, isn't ashamed to be jobless," says the CEO of a manpower placement company.

A., 27, is one of 50 workers in Israel that Texas Instruments fired on the eve of Passover. He had been a software engineer at TI, and grossed NIS 20,000 a month. He signed up with the Employment Service in Tel Aviv and contacted a manpower firm, which suggested a customer service job at a cellular company. Given his experience, advancement would be rapid, the company suggested. "I won't go from NIS 20,000 a month to NIS 5,000," he said.

The Central Bureau of Statistics says that unemployment is running at 6.8% and estimates see it rising to 7.5% in the third quarter of 2009. In March alone, more than 20,000 Israelis lost their jobs. Despite the economic slump, all the telecom companies are hiring. But the salaries are just too small to swallow for the high-tech firees.