Microsoft and Google have found a new place to fight over employees:
Israel. The Israeli publication Globes and others are reporting today that Google will be translating its services into Hebrew and expanding its small presence in Israel.
I just spoke on the phone with Danny Yamin, Microsoft Israel’s chief executive, who is in Ranana, Israel. Yamin’s not real worried about Google, saying that his main competition comes from IBM, Oracle, and elsewhere. “When it comes to employees, for the good and talented people there is always competition,” Yamin says. “But what happens in Israel maybe is different than other places — we have many talented people and 24 percent of the workforce holds a university degree, which is a huge percentage. I’m not saying it’s easy to get the most talented people. But we have quite a lot of them.”
Meir Brand, Google’s chief executive in Israel — and a former Microsoft employee, of course — told the Israeli publication Haaretz that several things precipitated Google’s move. “Israelis are chronic surfers. The search is the main use they make of Internet, while for Americans, the main use of Internet is email.” Also, search-engine advertising in Israel has yet to take off like it has in the United States, offering Google a chance to grow that market, according to Meir Brand. And Google says it’s making the move because there are so many good software engineers in Israel.
The Haaretz article notes that “Google famously has a weakness for the workers of arch-rival Microsoft and even found itself in court after poaching a top employee in China.”
Yamin tells me that Israeli’s many good universities, culture of risk-taking, and government support of startups are all positive influences on the tech sector. And he says that kids in Israel emulate the adults who have done well at Microsoft Israel and other tech firms.
“It’s a very vibrant community, very vibrant people,” Yamin told me. “People are very willing to changes. For years (in other countries) tech people do the same thing every week, every weekend, but people here are willing to accept change, not only willing to accept change, but see change as an opportunity. Change is everything when it comes to new technology.”
Yamin says that he believes that Israelis are going online faster than any other nation in the world, except for South Korea.
ERE has announced the finalists for its annual award for recruiting excellence.
It was good to see companies using hard numbers to demonstrate the results of their accomplishments. Also great to see so much creativity going into attracting and keeping people in a tight labor market.
Here they are, by category. They’re in alphabetical order within the categories; winners are announced at the ER Expo in March (shoot Kate an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about the expo).
Best Corporate Careers Website
Most Innovative Employee Referral Program
Most Innovative Recruiting Process or Structure
Best Employer Brand
Most Effective Use of Staffing Metrics
Best College Recruiting Program
Most Strategic Use of Recruitment Technology
Recruiter of the Year
Carlos Adame, TEC International
Dan Hilbert, Valero
Is a couple feet of snow, maybe a power outage, and perhaps a car that won’t start, enough to make one think about palm trees?
Nelson Befitel, who heads up
Hawaii’s labor department and who I talked with today, certainly hopes so.
Twenty years ago, Hawaiians started talking increasingly about the brain drain occurring as people went to college on the mainland and didn’t come back. With 2.8 percent unemployment, that’s something Befitel’s team can’t afford anymore.
“It’s a good problem to have,” Befitel says. “I’d rather have this side of the problem than the other side. It’s good for the employees because they can demand higher wages. It’s an employee’s market.”
But, he says, “Some of the employers are finding it difficult to fill positions, and mainly we’re looking at three to four major industries: Construction, the medical field, education, and high-tech life science. It’s the hot economy. We’re coming out of a down part of a cycle. As of 2003, the economy started picking up, mostly in the construction industry, tourism industry, real estate, and we’re trying to expand our economy in life sciences, high-tech. Hawaii’s history was as a plantation economy and we’re transferring to a tourism/construction economy and now we’re trying to transfer to more of a life-science economy.”
Hawaii‘s public education system is broken. A lot of high school grads can’t pass the union apprenticeship tests that lead to construction jobs, because the students can’t read and write at an 8th-grade level. The state is helping the students get remedial/refresher courses that improve their math and reading skills, as well as teach to the test. Since the courses began, test failure rates have plummeted.
Community colleges are also working to improve student skills, with the help of government grants. And fairs are being held on the islands to introduce young people to the construction industry.
As far as the medical field, Befitel says a $2 million grant from the U.S. Congress has helped in training students for jobs in nursing fields. It’s also helping to teach business skills to people who can open up long-term care businesses. Partly because of the influence of Asian/Hawaiian culture, long-term care via small businesses (as opposed to putting someone in an institution) is popular in Hawaii. Also, the University of Hawaii is working with Philippines to coordinate coursework in order to make it easier to bring in nurses.
Befitel graduated from high school in Maui, received a bachelor?s degree in journalism from the University of Hawaii, and a law degree from Arizona State in 1994. In the end, he says, “It (the skills shortage) comes down to the public education system, reforming the education system, improving skills of the workforce. There are opportunities here in Hawaii for people to thrive as we expand the economy, especially in the life sciences and biotech. Hopefully our former residents will come back home.”
–Pinstripe CEO Sue Marks, a recruitment outsourcing vendor, tells me that some big human resources outsourcing deals are “unraveling.” One theory, she says, is that the big HR outsourcing vendors were too focused on the transactional part of recruiting. “The soft stuff is often the hard stuff,” she says.
–Short of bilingual teachers, Dallas Superintendent Michael Hinojosa suggests his school district examine whether there’s a way to hire illegal aliens, according to the Associated Press. “We are going to follow the law, but if there is the possibility to modify the law, we should,” he says.
–The head of the Service Employees International Union, Andy Stern, recently told the consultng firm McKinsey: “I think what we’re going to see happen in the next ten years, if not sooner, is a convergence of a global labor movement, a global corporate-responsibility movement, and nongovernmental organizations. In the end, we’re all dealing with the same sets of concerns and, more important, with the same grouping of multinational employers.” He also envisions an era of outsourcing strikes: “If workers are ready to go on strike in the
United States, and we are ready to pay them to strike, it would be very costly. But paying workers in Indonesia or India or other places to go on strike against the same global employer isn’t particularly expensive.”
–According to Cnet and the AP, “Google has hired Amazon search chief Udi Manber ? Manber, who headed up the e-commerce company’s A9 division, will become a vice president of engineering at Google.”
–Was great to see such former Workforce coworkers as John Hollon, Carroll Lachnit, and others at this week’s LA HR week conference. Also good to bump into CRI’s Ladd Richland, Collegrecruiter.com’s Steven Rothberg, and visionary LA school district HR VP Deborah Hirsh, who recently wrote for ERE’s journal.