Intel is embarking on a major expansion drive in Israel that will include a new facility in Haifa and the hiring of 1,000 additional employees, the company announced on Wednesday. The U.S. semiconductor giant’s new CEO, Patrick Paul Gelsinger, will be visiting Israel next week.
The company plans to recruit the added employees during the first three quarters of 2021 for its three Israeli research and development centers in Haifa, Petah Tikva and Jerusalem. It will be looking for hardware and software engineers as well as experts on artificial intelligence.
In addition to the 1,000 new hires, its two subsidiaries in Israel – the auto-tech company Mobileye and the AI company Habana Labs – will be doing their own hiring, Intel said.
The expansion comes after a long period during which the head-count at Intel’s Israeli R&D centers remained unchanged. At the start of 2020, Intel said it employed 7,500 R&D staff in Israel, up by just 200 from the year before.
At the start of 2021, the number was down to 7,000, which was due to its sale of its smart-home operations, which had employed a few hundred people in Israel. But even after taking that into account, Intel Israel’s R&D head-count hasn’t grown in the last two years.
Of the 1,000 new hires Intel spoke about on Wednesday, it is not clear how much of that will represent net new hiring, since some of them will be replacing employees who leave. In addition to R&D personnel, the company always counts 4,900 production workers and 2,100 employees at Mobileye, Moovit and Habana Labs. All told, it has 14,000 employees in Israel.
Competition for semiconductor engineers right now is intense in Israel and the world. Industry sources say Intel is having a difficult time retaining staff, an example being the recent departure of Uri Frank, a top Intel Israel executive, to join Google’s new chip-development center in Israel.
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“There’s more competition for talent than in the past,” Karin Eibschitz Segal, head of Intel Israel R&D, told TheMarker. “Our strategy is to look at the employee experience comprehensively, both pay and benefits and to make Intel an attractive place to work.” She said the new Haifa campus was part of that strategy.
Today, 5,000 of the company’s 7,000 R&D personnel work in Haifa. The new building, to be constructed at a cost of $200 million adjacent to its current facilities in the Matam High-Tech Park, will be able to hold 2,500 workers. Intel will move them from rented quarters elsewhere in the park.
Between its new and old buildings, the company will now have a “mega-campus.” Construction of the new facility is to be completed in 2023 and count 70,000 square meters of floor space. It will be designed for the emerging “hybrid” work environment that combines work at home and the office.