The Risk of Automation in the Israeli Labor Market
Author: Shavit Madhala
December 23, 2019
This study maps out the Israeli labor market using data from the OECD’s Survey of Adults Skills (PIAAC). It focuses on identifying the population that is at highest risk of automation and further identifying their specific skill weaknesses that make them less fit for the future labor market.
Automation in the Israeli and global labor markets
A mapping of the Israeli labor market shows that the share of jobs at risk of automation is not so different from other OECD countries, and that jobs that require skills such as creativity and social intelligence are at lower risk.
- About 15% of existing jobs in Israel are at high risk for automation, 54% at moderate risk, and 31% at low risk (a higher percentage than the OECD average).
- A large percentage of the jobs at high risk are in the construction and manufacturing sectors, transportation and storage services, postal and courier services, and food and lodging services.
- In sectors such as the arts and entertainment, information and communication, education, and security, a low percentage of jobs were found to be at great risk of automation.
The workers at risk of automation
There are differences in the frequency with which workers use skills required for the future labor market. Accordingly, workers’ level of risk differs across age group, education level, gender and population group.
- A higher percentage of young people ages 16-24 work in jobs at high risk of automation.
- Among Jewish males there was a decline in the percentage of at-risk jobs for men of prime working age, 25-54, versus an increase for the age range approaching retirement, 55-65.
- Arab men in all age groups hold the highest percentage of higher-risk jobs, compared both to Jews and to the OECD average.
- When controlling for sociodemographic variables, the study finds that the higher the education level, the lower the automation risk.
- A high school education reduces the risk of automation by 5 percentage points compared to below-high-school education.
- Higher education reduces the risk by 15 percentage points compared with below-high-school education.
Gender and population group:
- Women, especially non-Haredi Jewish women, are at higher risk than men, and when controlling for occupation the gaps widen to women’s disadvantage.
- About half of Arab Israeli men are employed in manufacturing, construction, and machine operation – fields characterized by high automation-risk levels.
- Arab Israeli men and women have relatively high employment rates in unskilled occupations that do not require high skill levels or training.
- The Haredi population has a notably large share of occupations requiring academic training – mainly in the field of education, where automation risk is low.
Frequency of using skills identified as ones required by the future labor market:
- For the Arab Israeli population, the frequency with which a worker uses these skills is low compared to Jews and to the OECD average.
- Non-Haredi Jewish males use these skills more than do men and women from all the population groups, and more than do men and women in the OECD – especially skills related to solving complex problems and planning for others.
- The frequency with which these skills are used increases with age, peaking in the 36-54 age range.
- Only about 43% of the Arab Israeli population use a computer for their work (an important skill for the future labor market), compared with 77% of non-Haredi Jews.
Tools for dealing with the expected changes
Relative to the OECD, Israel has a high share of people who are interested but do not participate in relevant studies or training because of prohibitively high costs. One of the main policy tools for accessing and acquiring skills, particularly among vulnerable populations, is the array of state-run vocational training courses. In order to create an effective training system, there is a need for reliable information about the required skills; in addition to the skills survey, employer surveys indicating employer needs are necessary to complete the picture.