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 was often synonymous with farm work in a Kibbutz.
Moreover, most laborers working in Israel 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 has recovered from the worldwide economic crisis of 2008/2009 fairly quickly.
In 2012, the joint efforts of all people working in Israel led to 3.5% of annual economic growth and exports worth a staggering $65 billion. Estimates for 2013 predicted a slightly reduced growth of 3%, and this trend continued during 2014. But despite this, Israel will remain a competitive nation with a flourishing economy in the foreseeable future.
With regard to both labor force and the gross domestic product, working in 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 2.4% to the GDP.
Israel’s industries, by comparison, create nearly a quarter of the gross domestic product. 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 going strong.
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, e.g. 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.
As far as the tertiary sector is concerned, the biggest employers for people interested in working in Israel’s service industry — in addition to the large public sector — are finance and tourism. 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.
Despite the uncertain political situation in the Middle East, 2012 was a record year for international tourism. Israel’s hospitality services must have rejoiced at the 3.5 million visitors that came to spend their vacation in the Holy Land. Tourists from the US, Russia, France, the UK, Germany, and other American or European nations helped to provide jobs for up to 8% of all employees working in Israel’s tertiary sector.
The employment situation in general is fairly positive. With unemployment figures of 6%, the unemployment rate is still okay in the current global climate — surely good news for the labor force currently working in Israel.
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