“The worst thing that could happen to us as a nation is the discovery of natural gas, and, God forbid-–also the discovery of oil. It will cause us to shift our attention away from investment in technological education,” said Maxine Fassberg, the departing chief of Intel Israel, at a conference Tuesday of the Israel Association of Electronics and Software Industries in Tel Aviv.
“The industry must be brought back home,” Fassberg said. “The waves of immigration from the Soviet Union, which, in the early years, supplied the high tech industry in Israel with incredible momentum, have decreased, and will not supply the bonus that immigration supplied in its first years. Now, we must rely solely on the education system to set in motion the wheels of Israeli technology. That is why Israel must prepare a national plan for its education system for 25 years, not two years, which will be expansive and will analyze the needs of Israeli industry as a manufacturing sector that will develop the next generation.”
“We have 160,000 students in the 12th grade, but only four percent of the students are expected to complete technological subjects, study science in academia and work in the high tech industry,” Fassberg said. “In a developed country, that number stands at 25 percent, not 4 percent.”
Fassberg also noted that “Israel produces more Nobel Prize laureates per capita than any other country in the world, and will continue to produce Nobel Prizes laureates in coming years.” But she added that “Israel has a grave shortage of engineers, and universities today prefer to produce quantity and not quality, and therefore the level of the engineers is not among the highest in the world.”
Fassberg said that “if we don’t succeed in returning to the market the high ability levels it was accustomed to in recent years, we will ultimately harm it and not encourage excellence. Striving for excellence must be at the top of our list of priorities. Anything that is less than first place is a compromise, which we mustn’t reach. We owe the next generation the education that our generation received.”