What Israel needs is more help-tech workers, more positions for help-tech workers in the public services, and higher salaries that will not discourage women (as well as men) from entering and remaining in the help-tech professions
The war in Ukraine is the biggest news, of course, in Israel as elsewhere. The second biggest news item over here concerns the hi-tech sector of the economy: the recent declaration of a new vision for Israeli society. Alternative Prime Minister Yair Lapid announced that his aspiration for Israel is one million Israelis employed in hi-tech.
I beg to differ with the Alternative Prime Minister and with all others sounding the hi-tech jive: what Israel needs more than more hi-tech is more help-tech.
Once the country with the highest number of physicians per 1,000 people – 4 per 1,000 people, Israel now boasts 3.13 (compared with the average of 3.6 in OECD countries). According to TheMarker (March 3, 2022), the future looks dim: the prediction is that 30% (583) of an estimated 1,932 medical school graduates to be licensed to practice in 2022 received their degrees from medical schools abroad whose diplomas will soon lose their recognition, due to the unacceptably low level of the medical education and the paucity of the clinical experience they offer.
Israel needs more doctors now, and the needs will grow with the population. And nurses? Anyone who has ever been in hospital knows that nurses are the professionals who actually take care of you. But they are few and far between: Israel has only 5 practising nurses per 1,000 people, compared with an average of about 9 per thousand – almost double — in OECD countries. Unlike physicians, some 40% of whom are women, nurses do not make news (84% are women).
Doctors and nurses are not the only help-tech (and other public service) professions we read and hear about day in and day out: there is a shortage of some 10,000 teachers and some 10,000 psychologists, as well as 20,000 care workers for the elderly.
In the public services, there is a dearth of positions for social workers — sorely felt during the corona crisis of the last two years. And other help-tech workers, like physical therapists, dieticians, speech therapists and occupational therapists, are also in short supply in the public services.
One of the reasons for the shortage of help-tech workers is that salaries are low, especially relative to hi-tech workers. And the majority of nurses, teachers, psychologists, social workers and physical, speech, and occupational therapists are women.
It is no secret that women’s salaries do not equal those of men, among others, because the majority of women work in occupations that underpay them; that is, there is no connection between their pay and their social worth.
No, what Israel needs more than more hi-tech workers is more help-tech workers, more positions for help-tech workers in the public services, and higher salaries that will not discourage women (as well as men) from entering and remaining in the help-tech professions. In the long as well as the short run, our quality of life depends more on help-tech than on hi-tech.