Israel faces a shortage of 10,000 programmers and engineers, which means its lucrative tech industry could lose its global edge if startups suffer. Ciara Lee reports on how firms are looking to Eastern Europe for help.
Driven by startups, it's the fastest growing part of Israel's economy. The tech industry accounts for 14 percent of economic output and half of all exports. But it's facing a glitch. A shortage of workers is threatening its position at the cutting edge of global technology. Particularly as startups are competing for talent with the likes of Google, Intel and Apple. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WIX.COM'S GENERAL MANAGER OF DEVELOPMENT CENTERS, BOAZ INBAL, SAYING: "People, talent people can choose where to work and this is the competition we have. With that said, we have our global sites abroad in order to expand and reach more talent pools globally. We believe that we can find very quality people outside of Israel and if we need, we'll open another center in a different location to expand even more." And other Israeli firms are doing the same, with Ukraine a top hiring location. It has strong tradition of maths and computer science teaching and is home to around 100 Israeli development centres. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) INFOPULSE VICE PRESIDENT ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT AND CLIENT ENGAGEMENT, ANDREY LINK, SAYING: "A key argument in our favour is not the price, but availability. It's not a problem for a big company in Israel to find two-three people, and if they need to create an R&D center with 100 people, that's probably very difficult to do in Israel." A shortage of 10,000 engineers and programmers is forecast over the next decade, thanks to a sharp drop in the number of computer science and maths graduates. The government's trying to encourage teaching in schools to reverse that. But memories of the dotcom bubble burst in 2000 .. when many Israeli tech workers lost their jobs.. is still too fresh in some peoples minds.