Israel’s universities are failing to produce graduates who have the skills needed to lead the country’s economy, an OECD report has warned.
The report, released Tuesday, warns that students who are expected to make the transition from university to work and back into the workplace may not have the requisite experience or skills to handle the demands of that transition.
“As a result, they may not be able to provide an effective service to the state, or even to their employers,” OECD said in its report.
“A study by Tel Aviv University (TU) in 2015 showed that only around two-thirds of graduates of its doctoral programme had completed their postgraduate study in their third year,” it added.
The OECD said the lack of graduates is the biggest challenge facing Israel’s “third economy” and “fourth pillar” of the state.
“The third sector of Israel’s economy is dominated by large multinational corporations, and there is little expectation that it will produce graduates of high calibre,” the OECD said.
“This is why many graduates in the third sector do not have a strong social network, or a strong support network, and so find it hard to establish themselves as productive members of society.”
It warned that the lack to prepare graduates to lead Israel’s future will be “the key problem facing the economy in the years to come.”
In a report published last year, the OECD warned that “graduates of the third-tier institutions may not feel that they can succeed in their careers” because they lack the “technical or managerial skills to effectively serve the economy and the public”.
The OECD report noted that while the number of graduates entering university for postgraduate studies has increased significantly, the proportion of graduates who finish their degrees with a degree of at least a bachelor’s degree is falling, from more than 60% in 2000 to under 50% today.
It added that in recent years the proportion with a master’s degree has fallen to less than 25% from a peak of more than 50% in 2015.
The UN report said the gap between graduates and those entering the workforce was narrowing.
“Today, there are only around three graduates of tertiary level, while one graduate of doctoral level is expected to leave university in the next five years,” it said.
The government has committed to increasing the number and quality of graduates by two million in the first four years of a five-year plan.
“It is important to note that this is not an easy task, as it requires the government to undertake a series of ambitious and challenging reforms, such as raising the number or quality of postgraduate and doctoral students, raising the salary threshold for entry into the professions, and making it easier for the government and employers to identify and recruit candidates,” the report said.
It said the government was already making progress on several fronts, including raising the minimum salary of graduates, increasing the amount of work experience required and allowing for private and public sector employees to join the workforce.
“We are also taking the first step towards a more flexible and flexible labour market, by encouraging employers to make use of the existing flexible work-life balance and flexible working conditions,” it warned.
“While the government has made considerable progress on these fronts, we should not forget that a new government will need to continue to push for further reforms, including more flexibility in the workplace.”
The OECD is the first non-government organization to examine the future of Israel and the Israeli economy.
The authors of the report noted the lack and importance of the sector in the Israeli society, as well as the need to address “the economic and social underpinnings of the country”.
“The current economic environment has not produced the kind of growth that was envisaged by the government’s ‘third pillar’ programme, as evidenced by a drop in private investment, as also by an increase in unemployment,” the authors wrote.
The OECD warned there was no sign of progress on those fronts.
“In the absence of an effective social safety net and a credible public sector, the Israeli government has been unable to achieve economic growth, and its social cohesion has suffered,” the paper said.