The IDF Is Still Israelis' Main Path to High-tech

A survey conducted by Ethosia and TheMarker found that an Israeli high-tech entrepreneur is most likely to be a post-graduate man who served in an IDF combat or technology unit.

Orr Hirschauge
Orr Hirschauge
Orr Hirschauge
Orr Hirschauge

Although Israel’s high-tech industry has strayed far from its military roots since the 1990s, the IDF is still as significant a factor in it as ever. A joint survey conducted by the research department of Ethosia Human Resources, a company that specializes in job placement in the high-tech and biotech fields, and TheMarker found that the army is one of the main sources of personnel for local high-tech, and the training that its technological personnel receive is an important part of their career paths.

In the survey, which was conducted among 500 high-tech workers – only 12 percent of them women – 29 percent of the respondents said that they had served in a technology unit in the IDF. Of the 90 percent who said they had served in the regular army, 31 percent served in a combat unit

The percentage of respondents who had served in technology units was particularly high among startup entrepreneurs, more than one-third of whom had served in such units. Of the 36 percent of the respondents who work in startups who had served in a technology unit, about 10 percent came from Unit 8200, the Israeli Intelligence Corps unit responsible for collecting signal intelligence and code decryption.

“There’s a clear understanding among all those involved in the high-tech industry that we need to expand the pool of workers to include more sectors,” said Avi Hasson, the chief scientist of the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, commenting on the survey results. “This isn’t just a question of what’s conventional. We must bring new personnel into high-tech because of the shortage of workers. The shortage won’t be solved by exhausting the supply of personnel in sectors that are already part of this industry. It will be solved only by bringing in people from additional sectors.”

According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, about one-third of software-engineering graduates attended college, yet the survey found that the proportion of college graduates among the respondents was only 21 percent despite the very high percentage of respondents who held a college degree.

Nearly three-quarter of the respondents were under 40 years of age, and 60 percent of them were between the ages of 31 and 40.

Galit Zuckerman is one of many graduates of the IDF's Unit 8200 working in high-tech.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

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