"The Startup Nation" is the contemporary branding of the State of Israel. It is no secret that the Israeli high-tech industry has been flourishing in recent decades, seen in the exits that Israeli companies make, IPOs on the stock exchange and the high investment rounds that the Israeli startups manage to raise. The nation works hard to preserve the branding and justify it, so it's no surprise that the decision makers are also invested in its continued progress. For example, included in the basic guidelines of the current government it states that the government "will aim to increase in the number of employees in high-tech to 15% of all employees in the economy by the year 2026". Is this goal realistic? One of the ways the government aims to reach this goal is through grants to entities that increase the supply of workers in the Israeli high-tech industry through training and placing high-quality and skilled workers. For example, in December 2021, the Innovation Authority granted NIS 54 million to 49 entities that presented diverse models and programs that would resolve the problem. The Edmund de Rothschild Foundation, led by Dr. R. Eitan Regev recently published a study which sheds some light on the emerging reality in the field – while the percentage of students who drop out of all fields of study is 22%, the dropout rate from mathematics and computer science degrees is 32%. This is 10% more than the general average. For comparison, the percentage of dropouts for medical fields is only 2%. Meanwhile, the data shows that the dropout rate among men is higher than among women, in computer science and mathematics degrees. The data shows that the percentage of men who drop out of these degrees is 35%, compared to 28% of women.
The data is not surprising and is in line with the State Comptroller's report on "state actions to increase the number of employees in the high-tech industry" as published in May 2021. From the data of the report, 22% of all students who began degree studies in computer science, failed to finish the degree and dropped out. The interesting figure is that in addition to the 22% dropout rate, 20% of students who started their degree studies in computer science, changed to another subject during their studies. However, there is a 40% increase in the number of students who choose to study a bachelor's degree in high-tech subjects such as software engineering, industrial and management engineering, computer engineering and more.
If you thought that dropping out of school was only the domain of higher education students only, the reality is that coronavirus has meant that even high school students are not immune from dropping out of school. From a discussion in the Education Committee of the Knesset from December 2021, it appears that there are over 90,000 students are considered to be official dropouts. There are tens of thousands of additional male and female students who are considered to be hidden dropouts, students who the authorities have no possible way to measure their absence from the education system.
In addition to the data from the education system, the State Comptroller's report states that only 40% of the ‘weakest’ schools in the country teach mathematics and computer science subjects at the highest level (5 units). For comparison, in the ‘strongest’ schools in the country, that figure stands at 88%. However, approximately 3,000 male and female students will not even have the possibility to complete studies at the highest levels for mathematics and computer science due to a continued shortage of teachers for these subjects.
Why do students drop out?
The reasons for students dropping out of higher education institutions are diverse and include, economic, social, student maturity, motivation and more. It's no secret that a degree in the State of Israel is not cheap. Whether it is a university degree, a private college or a subsidized degree from the state due to benefits such as educational benefits for discharged soldiers. No matter how we spin it, studying in Israel is an expensive affair. Apart from the costs of the degree, there are also associated costs – equipment needed for the degree such as textbooks, a laptop, office equipment, etc., and living expenses such as dorms, rent, bills, public transportation. This is before we even mention entertainment and leisure expenses. Many students feel that the financial burden also affects their studies and decision to drop out.
Social reasons also affect the dropout rate of male and female students. The student population is not homogeneous and as such is made up of different populations from Israeli society. Not everyone manages to find a social solution to their needs such assistance in adapting to the studies, language difficulties, making friends and the general sense of belonging. Distance learning does nothing to help the situation and many students can feel alienated, both towards the educational institution where they study and towards their classmates.
The maturity of the student and their motivation for studies also greatly influences the ability to predict their chance of success or dropping out. There are students who do not feel ready to start their studies, yet they start studying without prior mental preparation. For example, students find themselves in a field of study that they were not interested in due to pressure from their environment – family and society. Lack of interest in the subject of the studied degree combined with immaturity may affect the student's motivation to study and complete their studies.
All of these reasons may explain the dropout rate from degrees in general, but why is the percentage of dropouts in computer science degrees higher than in other fields of study? There is no specific answer to this, but if we thoroughly read the State Comptroller's report from May 2021, we can see the issue of dropping out from a different angle. The report states that "early knowledge gaps are one of the reasons for dropping out of high-tech studies." A preliminary program in computer science could help to reduce this gap. If necessary, supplementary programs could be integrated into the study materials, such as an attribute development program, in order to provide an additional source of knowledge to the student. At the same time, it is important to note that in many cases, degree graduates, including those from computer science degrees, are not always fully prepared to immediately enter the labor market lacking the knowledge and specific tools required in the industry and the lack of real work experience in a development environment.
The light at the end of the tunnel – Training and programs alongside degrees
Various training tracks and programs cater to bachelor degree graduates in real professions without practical experience for positions such as software development. The various programs in computer science subjects and deeper training tracks are a gateway to the high tech industry for many.
However, it should be taken into account that not every program or training program in high-tech professions such as software development will suit you. How can you choose the right training program for you? We have put together some criteria that will help you answer this question. Firstly, check whether it is only an educational institution or an R&D company that is itself involved in development, so its training will be relevant and industry-adjusted. It is important to check where the graduates of the training in question are employed and in what positions. Secondly, check what training method is used, what is special about it, and who are the staff members that will accompany you along the way. In addition to the staff members, check your training partners. Quality participants will set you up for a successful training environment. In addition, the duration of the training is an important parameter to take into account. If we are talking about a short program consisting of only a few weeks, you will probably not come out of it with all the necessary knowledge needed to jump start your career in high tech.
If you ask Infinity Labs R&D graduates, they will tell you that our training program meets all the criteria that defines high-quality, professional and in-depth training and at no cost to the student. Over 1,600 of our graduates are employed in 290+ of the leading high-tech and startup companies in Israel, in positions that require 2-3 years of experience and all of this in a 30-32 week training program. The company also continues to accompany its graduates throughout their careers with continued access to staff and databases.
If you have chosen to do a degree in computer science or another degree and you have the desire to quickly and seamlessly integrate into the Israeli high-tech industry and be part of the "Startup Nation", we are here to provide you with a training program adapted to the high-tech industry of the 21st century and give you all that you need to jump start your career.