Calcalist has learned that a new recruiting platform for the high-tech industry is being set up in Israel, involving some of the industry’s top executives. The platform, which will be called PLACE-IL, is intended to provide a solution to the problem of the shortage of high-tech labor on the one hand and on the other hand to enable population groups suffering from under-representation in the industry to integrate and attract more junior staff (young programmers) into the industry to introduce
American venture capital fund Insight Partners, which is very active in investing in Israeli technology, will be a strategic partner of the initiative and one of its backers. Additional funding comes from partner companies, primarily Google, Monday, Cisco, Armis, Palo Alto Networks, Riskified and Axonius. All these companies not only contribute to the financing of the activity, but also commit to a certain number of interns who will be integrated into their development teams from the target group that PLACE-IL addresses.
In addition to the companies, the Israeli funds Viola Ventures, Vertex Ventures and Elron Ventures will also be partners in the initiative. The advisory team includes Liad Agmon, a partner at Insight; Gigi Levy-Weiss, General Partner of the NFX fund; Michael Eisenberg, equal partner in the Aleph fund; Palo Alto Networks founder Nir Zuk; Armis Security co-founder and CTO Nadir Izrael; Founder and CEO of HiBob, Ronni Zehavi, Nataly Kremer, CEO of AT&T Israel; and former Justice Department Director-General Emi Palmor.
All partners have already committed several million shekels to the project’s initial activity, which will involve formulating identification and sorting procedures for under-represented populations. Within this framework, a kind of assessment center for the high-tech professions will be set up after the companies have jointly formulated the relevant tests, which will not necessarily have the currently accepted format of a puzzle or a two-hour code-writing test. At the same time, the platform aims to function as a meeting point, or in its high-tech name, a “marketplace” that enables a connection between candidates and technology companies looking for employees.
Behind the initiative is Idan Tendler, an executive at cyber giant Palo Alto Networks, who acquired his startup Bridgecrew for $200 million last year. In this phase, the platform will function as an association led by Keren Halperin-Musseri, who was previously the CEO of the Shiur Acher (Another Lesson) association. The purpose of the platform is to formulate new screening processes for the industry that will not only appeal to graduates from the technology departments of the IDF, but also allow candidates from the Arab, Ultra-Orthodox, Druze and Ethiopian sectors to express their skills in Tests accepted today in high-tech companies.
The platform will connect with the various vocational training and retraining institutions working with government or philanthropic funds to gather all candidates under one roof and allow high-tech human resources organizations easy and convenient access to a new pool of candidates. Candidates who pass the search and selection process are placed in year-long internship programs, during which they receive a salary. According to the plan, each company accepts interns for at least three months. Each company participating in the program has committed to a minimum number of interns who are integrated into their development teams each year.
“When I returned to Israel after seven years in San Francisco, I was very struck by the gaps between the players in the high-tech industry and those outside. Israel is going through a process of Californianization where you can go a lifetime without seeing people who aren’t in high tech,” Tendler told Calcalist. “The dynamism of high tech doesn’t reach everyone, and if we want them to, they don’t is only a locomotive, but also the engine of the entire Israeli economy, the reality must change. On the other hand, 20,000 workers are missing in the high-tech industry, which is unaffected by the recent cuts in industry. It continues to grow. And there is a shortage of workers, so if we don’t find them in Israel, the projects will flow abroad along with the jobs and with them significant assets that have been built here.”
Tendler describes how his work began as a one-off workforce diversification initiative within Palo Alto Networks, which employs approximately 700 people in Israel, but he saw that it was impossible to do alone and required the participation and commitment of the entire industry. “There are many niche and specific initiatives and a number of employee training programs from different sectors funded by the government or by philanthropists, but they end up only creating bottlenecks in the final stages of corporate hiring. The industry itself does not know how to reach these employees HR departments want to diversify the employee population but do not know where to start Unlike the many initiatives in this area that have existed to date, the current platform is the first which was organized and institutionalized on the initiative of high-tech companies, and that’s why I believe that this time it can be different than in the past.”
As befits startups, Tendler and his partners have big dreams and goals that sound pretty imaginative. “Our goal is for 10,000 people from today’s underrepresented population groups to go into the field within two years,” explains Tendler. “High-tech companies have never worked together to bring employees to them, only fought head-to-head for talent.”
The first step will be the construction of customized tests: “Today, high-tech companies send the candidate a code-writing task, and they have two hours to do it. You cannot expect the same result from a graduate of the technological units in the IDF as a retraining graduate. The other group will also take the test, but will have two weeks to do so. At the same time, the candidates are accompanied by volunteers from high-tech companies. The idea is to develop a method for identifying talent similar to recruiting for military units,” says Tendler. The second step will be to set up a three-month American-style internship program in each company, where the candidate will be given a project. If the candidate does not remain in the same company after the completion of the first period, they will transfer to an internship in another company until the candidate has gained a full year of experience.
The first pilot project has already started, the first hundred candidates are going through the selection process and will start the internship programs within a few weeks. To date, most efforts to diversify the high-tech workforce have not borne fruit, and the Arab, ultra-Orthodox, Druze and Ethiopian population in high-tech is estimated at just 4%. Nataly Kremer, CEO of AT&T Israel, told Calcalist, “There are many plans and attempts to diversify the high-tech workforce through the integration of different demographics, but this is the first time the initiative has come from the industry himself comes. The entire industry is building something real here that includes a strong commitment to investing in interns. This is a significant and dramatic difference from the other programs.”