While the effects of Covid-19 on the labor market have been widely discussed, its long-term impact on young people is notable, as it has caused many of them to reconsider their life choices and plans.
When the pandemic hit, I served on the board of youth advisors of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, who were invited to bring their perspectives, insights and ideas to help OECD countries design better policies for young people.
As part of the OECD Youth Action Plan update, we conducted research on young people’s perceptions of the new labor market and the challenges it presents to them.
Yam Atir of the Start-Up Nation Policy Institute. Photo by Micha Loubaton
Since more than one in three young people have reported financial difficulties since the start of the pandemic, the first finding was expected: Most young people indicated that economic stability was their most important consideration when entering the job market.
On the other hand, the second finding was more surprising – more than 80 percent of young people indicated that they would prefer a career that positively affects society.
We speculated that the pandemic-forced disruption of the race of life caused them to rethink their choices and prioritize those that produced satisfaction, influence and fulfillment. That later was also reflected in “The Great Resignation”.
Looking at these findings in the Israeli context, we noticed that the high-tech industry plays an important role in both goals. This may interest you : Old books, new ideas: The program aims to diversify the field of rare books.
The obvious is that a high-tech career is the most direct way to achieve economic self-sufficiency. The average salary in this industry is three times higher than the national average, and companies often include additional benefits, including flexible work environments and other perks.
More than that, high technology offers young people careers in a field where demand will continue to grow in the foreseeable future (even considering the current recession), with attractive opportunities worldwide.
A report my colleagues at the Start-Up Nation Policy Institute published last month shows the appeal of the Israeli high-tech industry, with a 30,000 increase in the total number of high-tech employees in 2021, many of them in non-technical roles.
We can also see the interest in this industry in the large number of young people who strive to serve in the technological units of the IDF, in the growing number of STEM graduates and in the high enrollment figures of private training courses and bootcamps.
However, as previously mentioned, this type of compensation alone will not be enough for many of us young people in the long run.
Making a contribution
Especially in the post-Covid world, young people are looking for a workplace that offers meaning, a positive impact on society and an opportunity to make a contribution. On the same subject : The return of anti-LGBTQ hate politics.
It is here that the significant potential of the Israeli high-tech industry is embodied.
Although the high-tech industry offers its employees access to cutting-edge technologies, and a futuristic world, unfortunately there is a dramatic gap between how these skills are assimilated into everyday life in Israel.
Israeli high-tech can and must offer young people a new value proposition — not just fancy offices and high salaries, but also a sense of purpose: a chance to make the world, and specifically Israel, a better place.
Israeli high technology should not only be an economic engine but also an impact engine. It is through cutting-edge technologies to address Israel’s social challenges that my generation can continue the Zionist project.
While Israeli high-tech exports advanced skills to the world, we should use Israeli technical ingenuity to solve the terrible traffic jams of Tel Aviv, to implement advanced learning systems in our schools, to upgrade our public health system and support our decision-makers with quality data.
To address domestic challenges, the Israeli innovation industry must integrate cross-sectoral forces and develop a new narrative that also looks inward, not outward.
The revolution has already started with my generation, now it’s time for the high-tech industry to join.
Yam Atir is the head of government relations and public policy at Start-Up Nation Policy Institute. Previously, she was an advisor to the OECD on youth policy, working with ambassadors, practitioners and policy makers to formulate long-term policies for the post-Covid-19 era. Prior to that role, she was a member of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s foreign relations team and former President Shimon Peres’ executive team. Forbes Magazine named Atir to the 2021 “30 Under 30” list. She has a BA in political science and communication from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.