Living in Israel
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Living in Israel

What do Israelis mean when they talk about working “in high tech”?

The Tel Aviv skyline. Tel Aviv, the center of the ‘merkaz’ (central region) is also the center of the “high tech world”

“High tech” is one of the words that even native speakers that move to Israel and live here for some time forget is (somewhat) nonsensical and poorly intelligible outside of the country. ( Although “relevant” is in the leading position — by far!).

By “high tech” (עולם ההייטק) Israelis seem to mean any company that has anything to do with the technology sector — and (typically) which is primarily focused on the international market where salaries are, consequentially, above the national mean.

However — this could equally be a SaaS company involved in selling AdTech or a life sciences company working on developing a vaccine for viruses.

A hardware manufacturer making components for the IoT and an API selling web-scraping technology to advertisers are two entirely different beasts — and only people with a limited understanding of technology would lump them under the same awkward rubric. Sorry to be snobby.

Rather, the essential element of a “high tech” job seems -to me- to be that the company is deploying technology in some way that is innovative — which is why I think it is nonsensical because, even in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors, this holds true for most efficiently run companies.

Alternatively, a layman might describe “high tech” as being “anything to do with computers”. But more presciently, when people talk about “working in high-tech” they are using a shorthand to say that they are working — or wish to work for — a company that exports to the international market, develops some sort of technology (or highlights its technical prowess as a prominent feature of its value proposition), and pays more than the national average salary.

Depending on the company, actual, non-ridiculous descriptors for companies that Israelis would lump all into the “high tech” descriptor would be:

  • The Information Technology (IT) sector; more archaically known as ICT
  • The software industry;
  • The hardware industry;
  • IoT; water-tech; etc.

Or to make the distinction between a logical description and the “high tech” catchall easier to understand, simply consider that, outside of the Israel bubble, companies are more typically described by the industry they serve rather than the state of their technological prowess (or lack thereof — although “low-tech” is not in common parlance!).

In reality, “high tech” is an amalgamation of a disparate grouping of industries and verticals.

Their only real distinguishing factor is that — compared to most Israeli companies that do not export internationally — their GDP per capita correlates to international standards and the salaries they offer are therefore more likely to too.

After Israelis’ strange use, in English, of the adjective “relevant,” “high tech” ranks as my second most disliked misappropriated English phrase!

(As you could surely tell, this was less an article and more a vendetta against the expression ‘high tech’!)

Originally published at https://www.danielrosehill.co.il

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Information and perspectives about living in Israel from olim past and present.

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Daniel Rosehill

Daniel Rosehill

Daytime: writing for other people. Nighttime: writing for me. Or the other way round. Enjoys: Linux, tech, beer, random things. https://www.danielrosehill.com

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