The Israel Innovation Authority (IIA) announced on Sunday that it will offer NIS 30 million (USD 9.3 million) to projects that contribute innovative models to increase the supply of workers to the tech sector. This is a new initiative intended to provide funding for the training and placement of quality and skilled human capital for the high-tech industry.
While Israel’s high-tech industry has “demonstrated a strong resilience during the coronavirus crisis” and broke records in raising capital, this only intensified the country’s problem of a chronic shortage of tech workers, according to new IIA CEO Dror Bin.
The initiative, called the Human Capital Fund, focuses on recruiting new workers from the Israeli population, with a particular emphasis on under-represented groups like ultra-Orthodox and Arab professionals, women, and employees over the age of 45, as well as workers from abroad.
The fund will offer two types of grants. The first grant is for startups or projects with a requested budget of up to NIS 1 million (USD 311,000) in the early-stage or ideation phase. The IIA will provide a grant of up to 70% of the approved budget. The second is for startups or projects with a requested budget of NIS 15 million (USD 4.7 million). The IIA will provide grants of up to 50% of the approved budget (and up to 70% for exceptional cases) at the growth or scale-up stage.
The Human Capital Fund program will work to support different types of projects in areas such as training, specialization, placement, upgrading, identifying potential, and more, by “defining the challenges rather than the solutions,” and examining proposals according to uniform criteria. For example, the addition of highly remunerated skilled manpower to the industry, the proposed program’s level of innovation, cost/benefit aspects, ability to enlist partners, ability to scale up the program, and more, a statement from the IIA said.
“Over the coming months, this important program will offer urgent solutions to the ‘juniors’ [people starting their career in tech] problem in the industry, incentives for professional training in a variety of high-tech fields, and the integration of academics, workers in the periphery, seniors, and other demographics which are currently underrepresented in the high-tech sector,” said Orit Farkash-Hacohen, Israeli minister of innovation, science, and technology.
“The manpower shortage is the most significant challenge for the continued rapid growth of the Israeli high-tech industry and for preserving its international leadership and competitiveness. We place great importance in working together with the industry to create beneficial, innovative solutions that will improve its current situation,” Bin added.
“Addressing this problem is complicated, and it requires a comprehensive long-term plan, without giving up on immediate steps like this call for proposals,” Farkash-Hacohen said.
She added that she is currently taking steps to establish a long-term plan to resolve this issue and that the goal is to increase the employment rate in Israel’s high-tech sector over the next five years, in collaboration with representatives from the industry and numerous governmental entities.
The article was originally published by NoCamels, a leading news website covering breakthrough innovation from Israel for a global audience.