“Hi-Tech Workers will Move to Beersheba and Kiryat Shmona”
Tuesday, March 24, 2020 2:21 PM
KKL-JNF's Israel 2040 vision reaches hundreds and thousands of readers on YNET.
Expanding Israel’s startup nation beyond the borders of Tel Aviv and its environs, attracting 1.5 million new residents to the Negev and Galilee, promoting education at all levels and creating new growth engines for the Israeli economy – all these form part of KKL-JNF’s Israel 2040 Plan. If this vision is realized, KKL-JNF World Chairman Daniel Atar promises that “instead of looking for work in California’s Silicone Valley, people from all over the world will be seeking jobs in the Negev.”
Translated from the original Hebrew article on YNET, 20/02/2020
Israel's social and economic resilience in the next two decades will come from strengthening the Negev and the Galilee, and moving knowledge-intensive, high-tech and cyber industries into these regions. This is the basis of the "Israel 2040" vision, which offers a solution to the country’s profound and ever-deepening demographic problem, particularly in the fields of employment and community development.
KKL-JNF is currently drawing up a list of incentives for businesses and individuals, with the aim of attracting 1.5 million new residents to the Negev and Galilee. “Instead of relocating to California’s Silicone Valley, people from Israel and all over the world will want to move to Beersheba and Kiryat Shmona,” declares KKL-JNF World Chairman Atar.
119 years on since its founding, KKL-JNF has set itself a new strategic challenge: building the Israel of tomorrow, the Israel of 2040, in which land, humanity and technology will be inextricably linked. In this venture, KKL-JNF will not only supply the roadmap but also coordinate all project-related activities and expedite the multitude of processes that need to occur in parallel, in order to achieve this goal. According to current research and forecasts, this vision is a necessity: without any real change, by 2040 central Israel will be even more severely overcrowded than it is today, and local quality of life, worker production levels and the country as a whole will suffer greatly as a result.
The plan is designed to redress the current situation, in which the Negev and Galilee do not sufficiently take part in Israel’s technology production, which is mostly located in the center of the country. “These regions need to be converted into national-economic generators of change,” asserts Daniel Atar. “We need to create a better national, social, economic and security reality.”
Data show that growth in Israel is not equal, and that where technology is concerned, the gaps are particularly large. Nine percent of Israel’s work force (over 300 thousand people) is employed in the booming technological industry, but the gap between those working in tech in central Israel and in its periphery is 40%. Overall, only 11% of research and development takes place outside the Tel Aviv area, limiting possibilities for expansion and the realization of nationwide potentialities.
These data can be simply explained: the leading universities that provide the economy’s work force and technological capital are situated in central Israel. Indeed, of Israel’s 60 institutions of higher learning, only 25% are outside the central region. Moreover, over 30% of students who embark upon technological studies leave after their first year, and of those who continue, only 75% will go on to complete their degree. Even then, there is no guarantee that they will work in the profession – and if they do, it is fairly safe to assume that they won’t do so in either the Negev or Galilee.
As a result, 50% of Israel’s gross national product is generated by its central region, with commensurate salary levels. Employers look at the data and realize that it is simply not worthwhile for them to operate elsewhere. But this concentration comes at a price: today, an estimated 15 thousand hi-tech jobs are waiting to be filled.
This is where KKL-JNF enters the picture: As an “operations integrator”, it will work together with the government, academia, the IDF, the national and international business sectors and Jewish communities worldwide in order to create a stronger and more firmly grounded Israel by 2040.
The Israel 2040 vision presents clear, fixed guidelines alongside other approaches that are subject to change according to future developments, some as yet foreseen. Examination of existing success stories has facilitated the formulation of criteria and incentives that will make the transition to technological activity in Galilee and the Negev rewarding for both large and small companies.
All this, however, needs supportive infrastructure that will entice potential workers to move. Finding solutions for transport and geography, the creation of human capital and business-friendly environments, lowered cost of living and increased quality of life will promote professional and residential mobility. For example, establishing innovation centers and high-tech industrial zones, (known as ‘high-tech ecosystems’) in the Galilee and the Negev will offer financial incentives and tax rebates to small companies that the state has so far not encouraged to move beyond Israel’s central region, and for whom a regional-level strategic relocation plan has yet to be formulated.
All stakeholders, both local and governmental, will need to get involved in addressing the gaps in living standards between the central Israel and the peripheral Negev and Galilee. KKL-JNF estimates that the relocation of 180 thousand high-tech workers to these two peripheral areas will eventually result in drawing 1.5 million new residents. In order for this to happen, industrial zones specializing in hi-tech and advanced technology will need to be created, and companies of varying size will need to come onboard. Global giants that employ thousands must be enticed to establish development campuses in the region; growing middle-sized companies need to be brought in, and small startups employing several dozen workers will need to be nurtured. “We shall turn the Negev and Galilee into a hi-tech and cyber power,” promises Atar.
As the demand for hi-tech workers increases, KKL-JNF will help local residents – natives and newcomers alike – to find jobs in the profession, and plans include the establishment of academic centers where demobilized soldiers can study computer sciences and communications. An initial pilot scheme underway in Arad with Yehuda Zisapel’s RAD-Bynet Group has already begun to create Israel’s hi-tech reserve force, and training centers will be set up to enable residents of the periphery to find appropriate employment in hi-tech without having to move to central Israel.
Also in the works are shared workspaces that will serve as incubators for the development of hi-tech companies and startups. These study, training and work centers will turn hi-tech into a regional growth engine and transfer the Negev and Galilee into focal points of attraction.
KKL-JNF officials assert that this plan is the natural continuation of the organization’s activities over the years. “We’ve formulated the next Zionist project and we’ve begun to build the Israel of tomorrow – no less!” says Atar. “With the help of hi-tech and cyber technology we shall change the employment and residential situation in the Negev and Galilee and enhance Israel’s economic and social resilience. We shall be the integrating factor – together with other relevant organizations – for all those who take part in bringing this vision to fruition. At many of the meetings we’ve held with leaders of hi-tech communities in Israel, we discovered that there is a great deal of support for this move. The government is promoting the issue, and we at KKL-JNF can certainly promote our shared objectives with the people on the ground in order to create a stronger and more egalitarian Israel by 2040.” |