Tech Industry Aliyah Programs: Navigating the Startup Nation
High-tech trumps all industries in Israel.
Israel's Minister of Innovation, Science, and Technology reports that the technology sector is the nation's fastest-growing industry, employing 14% of the population. This growth becomes evident when comparing the tech field to every other industry in Israel. Between 2012 and 2023, high-tech enjoyed an average yearly growth rate of 6.3% – 4.1% more than the average of 2.2% across all other sectors.
That’s not all.
Tech accounts for 18.1% of Israel’s GDP, meaning it’s the country’s largest sector in terms of pure output. Moreover, individuals working in the industry earn significantly more – an average of 28,385 shekels per year compared to the national average of 10,452 shekels.
As an Olim making Aliyah to Israel, you can see that the tech industry is the place to be. The only problem – either you don’t have qualifications or the qualifications you do have aren’t recognized by Israeli tech companies. You’re essentially starting fresh. Thankfully, Israel offers resources to help you get into the tech industry so you can navigate the startup nation and start building a career for yourself once you arrive.
Resource 1 – The Aliyah High-Tech Program
Considered the crown jewel among Israel’s tech programs for Olim, the Aliyah High-Tech Program offers a straightforward promise – eight months of study for a dream job in the tech sector.
The program – offered through Infinity Labs R&D in partnership with the Jewish Agency – is offered to U.S. residents and is split square down the middle. The first four months of your training take place in the States, likely as you’re preparing for Aliyah. Once you arrive in Israel, you complete the latter half of the training, along with Hebrew studies, before being placed in one of Israel’s most promising high-tech companies. You’ll even receive more specific training once you’re placed, assuming you need it for your new role.
Best of all – the program is free.
Infinity Labs R&D invests $30,000 into each participant, with their money being made up on the back end. Once you’ve finished the program, you technically remain as an employee of Infinity Labs, during which time they’ll lightly garnish your salary to get their money back. However, you likely won’t work with Infinity Labs. Instead, you’ll be contracted out to other companies – any that suit your skillset – for those two years. Once the two years is up, you have the freedom to become a permanent employee at your placement or to take your skills and apply for jobs elsewhere. Furthermore, each program participant receives a small stipend from Infinity Labs to help them pay their way once they arrive in Israel.
However, if it seems too good to be true, several conditions must be met to qualify for the program.
That starts with the eligibility criteria. The program tends to favor those who already have backgrounds in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields, especially computer science. Graduates and existing professionals can apply, as can anybody who has an “analytical” mindset. Application leads to an interview and compatibility check – only those candidates who are compatible with the program’s goals get in.
You may also find yourself limited in terms of your living situation. While the program allows its students to live anywhere in Israel, it’s open about the fact that most of its placements come from the Greater Tel Aviv area. So, you’ll either need to live in Tel Aviv or be in commutable distance to make the most out of the program.
Despite this, the Aliyah High-Tech Program presents a great opportunity for Olim with prior tech experience. It fast-tracks you through your studies and into work, laying the foundation for a career in Israel’s fastest growing industry.
Resource 2 – Israel Tech Challenge
If you don’t qualify for the Aliyah High-Tech Program, or simply don’t wish to pursue that opportunity, then Israel Tech Challenge (ITC) may be your next port of call.
In 2021, the Ministry of Aliyah put out a call to tech educators in the country to rise to the challenge of helping Olim transition into the tech industry during the coronavirus pandemic. The ITC answered that call by developing a subsidized training program in which students can learn how to build websites in the space of a few months.
Since then, the ITC has evolved its offering.
It now offers several programs – including data analytics and various coding courses – that Olim can take either at its Tel Aviv campus or online. It also has a more future-focused offering. Many of the ITC’s courses cover subjects like data science and machine learning – both crucial in a world that’s rapidly moving toward artificial intelligence.
Much like the Aliyah High-Tech Program, the ITC’s courses also come with career guidance. The company proudly makes the claim that 94% of its graduates find work within six months of finishing one of their five-to-six-month courses. It also boasts that companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft have all hired ITC graduates – great news for those looking to get into one of the world’s leading tech companies.
Finally, there’s the small issue of payment to consider. The ITC continues to team with the Ministry of Aliyah to offer scholarships – amounting to a maximum of 7,000 shekels – to Olim, both new and returning, who wish to take a course. You simply need to send an application to your relevant Ministry of Aliyah branch, after which you receive a voucher you can use to pay for the majority of your studies.
Resource 3 – The Ministry of Aliyah Voucher Program
The above mention of vouchers isn’t restricted to the ITC’s program. The Ministry of Aliyah actually offers vouchers for hundreds of tech-focused courses throughout Israel, with the organization partially funding your studies if you meet the relevant qualification criteria.
The vouchers are available to Olim who are either unemployed when they enter Israel or whose expertise lies in a sector that isn’t in high demand in the country. You must be above the age of 18 and below Israel’s official retirement age of 67 for men and 62 for women. Applicants also need a basic knowledge of Hebrew – even if their course is taught in English – with the minimum limit being set to graduation (or the equivalent) from Ulpan Alef.
Assuming you meet those conditions, you can apply for a voucher. That voucher will be for no more than 7,000 shekels, though it can be for less as The Ministry of Aliyah will only subsidize up to 80% of your course’s cost. If you’re studying a course that costs 6,000 shekels, the maximum voucher you can receive is for 5,800 shekels. Olim can also receive stipends for travel and accommodation if their course requires a minimum of 24 hours of study per week.
As for the courses themselves, you can find a full list on The Ministry of Aliyah’s website. The organization currently funds over 3,000 courses, though only 165 are in the technology and engineering sectors. Search through the database to find a relevant course and you’re in prime position to apply for a voucher.
Resource 4 – The Tech Talent Accelerator Program
This program is open to all Olim, irrespective of their technical background. That means you can enter without having written a single line of code and emerge as somebody who has the skills to make it in Israel’s high-tech industry. The program spans 12 weeks, and candidates can opt for either in-person classes in Tel Aviv or online sessions. Each bootcamp includes over 600 hours of classes, complemented by soft skills lessons designed to facilitate job placement
However, there is a selection process to get through before you can start a bootcamp. After applying, you’re put through your paces in a 60-hour course designed to assess your logical thinking and problem-solving skills. It’s only after passing that course that you’ll move onto the more intensive bootcamps.
There are a couple of catches if you choose to take this route.
First, the nature of bootcamps is that they’re extremely intensive. Though you can take your course online, allowing you to self-pace to a certain degree, you’ll have strict deadlines and will have to pour most of your time into your studies. That’s fine for some people – they have the time to dedicate 12 weeks of their life to their course. But if you have family or work obligations, you may find that this intensive approach is difficult to manage.
There’s also the small matter of payment.
Each of the Tech Talent Accelerator Program’s courses cost 4,000 shekels, with no governmental support offered. But, as mentioned, the blow of paying for yourself is softened somewhat by the fact that you only start paying once you find a job. Better still, you’ll get support from the organization’s careers team to find that job. Once you have it, the program garnishes your salary until you’ve paid the full amount back.
Even with these catches, the Tech Talent Accelerator Program offers a great opportunity for Olim. It’s accessible to all, regardless of past experience, and it will equip you with vital coding skills in relevant programming languages, making it much easier to start your high-tech career.
Resource 5 – Olim in Tech
Unlike the other programs and resources on this list, Olim in Tech isn’t focused on educating you for the tech market. Instead, it’s work revolves around the other side of the coin – helping you to find work in the industry.
It’s essentially a community made up of Olim and advisors that can help you to build a network once you arrive in Israel. It does this in two ways – maintaining an online community from which you can receive support no matter where you are and hosting regular events so you can meet other people in the tech sector.
Those events include basic meetups, such as happy hours, and more professional events, like workshops and opportunities to meet speakers in the sector. It’s all about helping you to overcome one of the inherent disadvantages of making Aliyah – you don’t know anybody. By offering a community of people who have similar goals to you, Olim in Tech not only helps you find opportunities in tech, but also helps you feel more at home in Israel.
Speaking of opportunities, it would be remiss not to mention the organization’s “Job Board.” Community members can post roles on the board, for which you can apply if you have the requisite skills.
So, think of Olim in Tech as a companion resource to the educational programs previously listed. If you struggle to find work through one of those programs, this organization could lead you down a career path that the others might not be able to find for you.
Traverse the Tech Landscape Once You’ve Made Aliyah
Finding your footing career-wise may be one of the most significant challenges you face when you make Aliyah. Israel’s job market is tough, especially on those who don’t yet have roots in the country, so you have to upskill fast.
Thankfully, the country’s tech industry is constantly looking for new talent. That’s an ideal situation for you. It means you can take advantage of the programs and resources in this article to develop skills and start a career in one of Israel’s fastest growing sectors.
The key is to start early.
Don’t wait until you’ve touched down in Israel before you start exploring the educational and support options available. Speak to The Ministry of Aliyah – or your representative – about voucher programs and explore the courses and resources in this list while you’re still in the United States. In some cases, such as with the Aliyah High-Tech Program, you can even start your studies in America, giving you a head start once you arrive in Israel.
Above all else, don’t be discouraged. Opportunities in high-tech exist – especially for those willing to work for them – and you’ll find your pathway to a great new career is made easier thanks to these programs.