Working in Israel?
Working in Israel
From Kibbutz to High-Tech Nation: Israel’s Economic Development
When you start working in Israel today, it’s hard to believe that the national economy began with a strong focus on agriculture and socialist policies. Several decades ago, a job in Israel often meant farm work in a kibbutz, and most laborers were represented by a unified trade union organization.
The Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel) had a huge influence on the nation’s economy and still plays an important role today, although it is no longer the dominant “state within the state” it used to be.
Nowadays, working in Israel means participating in a more liberal and diversified market economy characterized by a highly developed high-tech industry and a booming export sector. Israel recovered from the worldwide economic crisis of 2008/2009 and the Arab Spring of 2011 fairly quickly.
In 2016, Israel enjoyed an estimated 4% of annual economic growth and a GDP of more than 300 billion USD. Although the country has such economic issues as income inequality and high housing prices, it is definitely a competitive nation on the global market, and it is expected that its economy will continue to grow.
Traditional Industries in Israel
With regard to both the labor force and the gross domestic product, Israel’s primary sector has lost much of its importance. Israeli agriculture produces citrus fruit, vegetables, poultry, and dairy products, but it contributes a mere 2.1% to the GDP.
Israel’s industries, by comparison, contribute over a quarter of the gross domestic product to the national economy. The number of laborers working in Israel’s garment industry has decreased significantly: the production of textiles and footwear is often outsourced to developing countries and emerging economies with cheaper labor costs. However, other manufacturing industries, such as metalworking, the chemical industry, or diamond cutting, are still very much a part of the Israeli economy.
Israel: A Technology Hotspot
The best field for working in Israel is the high-tech industry. The country’s research universities provide an excellent education for graduates of the natural sciences or computer science who plan to enter one of Israel’s high-tech companies or research & development facilities. As a country lacking in natural resources, including most fossil fuels and even water, it’s hardly surprising that scientists working in Israel have made great progress in water conservation, desalination, and alternative energies.
There is also a prospering aerospace sector. Lots of employees working in Israel’s aerospace industry are actually involved in defense projects, but they have made important contributions to civilian aeronautics too, for example communication satellites. Last but not least, numerous researchers, engineers, and entrepreneurs working in Israel are employed in IT/CT, electronics, as well as the life and health sciences. Stem cell research, new software, or biomedical equipment, such as “Smart Hand” prostheses, are but a few examples of recent developments in these fields.
Finance and Tourism: Essential Industries in The Service Sector
The most significant employers in Israel’s tertiary sector (aside from the public sector) are the finance and tourism industries. Venture capital might be of particular interest: after all, countless new high-tech enterprises need funding. In the “Silicon Wadi”, start-ups spring up like mushrooms. On a per capita basis, Israel has one of the highest quotas of start-ups worldwide.
Although the number of visitors to Israel has decreased slightly in recent years (down from 3.5 million in 2012 to 3 million in 2016), perhaps due to the unstable political situation, tourism still provides jobs for around 6% of the country’s employees.
The country’s general employment situation is also good news for expats, with an unemployment rate of only 4.8% in 2016.
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