Bertold Fridlender

Ready to meet the challenge with new year underway

Earlier this month, the Israel Innovation Authority released its 2017 report, outlining the goal to almost double the number of people working in the high-tech sector in just ten years—from the current 270,000 to 500,000. While this certainly is an ambitious goal, it’s not unattainable, if the right approaches and strategies are in place. To this end, the Innovation Authority offers numerous recommendations to help reach this figure, including to “integrate more women, Arabs and ultra-Orthodox Jews, who are still on the sidelines, into the tech sector,” and to “develop additional sectors, like life-sciences, as opposed to focusing mainly on software and information communications technology (ICT).”

We are working diligently in both of these areas at Hadassah Academic College (HAC). In the heart of Jerusalem, students from diverse backgrounds and life experiences come together to challenge themselves in a rigorous academic environment, to grow, and to prepare themselves to become active members of the Israeli workforce. Our 4,000 students, half of whom are the first in their family to pursue a college degree, reflect Israeli society, coming together “under one roof.” Here’s just a sampling of who they are, by the numbers:

  • 20 percent of HAC students are Christian and Muslim Arabs, half of whom are Israeli Arabs, mostly from the north of Israel, and half of whom are residents of east Jerusalem.
  • 80 Ethiopian Jewish students study at HAC, and have access to a special advisor on staff, who is herself Ethiopian, who helps them transition to academic life.
  • 900 Haredi ultra-Orthodox students study at HAC, 70 percent of whom are women. Most of them are in a special academic program to prepare them for careers in the public and private sectors, with Bachelor degree tracks offered in seven different areas.
  • 164 students are new immigrants.
  • 450 of HAC students have some kind of defined learning disability and 111 have a physical disability. This year, ten students with Asperger syndrome were accepted for undergraduate study and were provided special assistance to succeed in their studies. We are the only institution of higher learning in Israel that has opened its doors to students with Asperger syndrome.

All of these different groups come together with the thousands of other HAC students to form a pluralistic and multi-cultural student body. We are proud of this diversity, and equally proud of the high academic level our students meet in order to be accepted to the College, and which they maintain while enrolled in their studies. 90 percent of them successfully complete their degree, one of the highest graduation rate of any college or university in Israel (student focus groups attribute this to the high level of personal assistance provided to every student by both faculty and student counselors.) These students engage in academic programs that are pragmatic and career focused—relevant for today and in anticipation of future trends. We offer innovative degree programs that align with the evolving needs of the workplace and prepare students so that they are ready for work and ready for life. Our educational approach blends new technologies and techniques, knowledge of the workplace, innovation, and fiscal responsibility with a commitment to excellent academic learning standards, community involvement, and personal attention.

HAC’s new Master’s degree in Management is indicative of our approach to developing students to be leaders in any number of sectors. The program will place particular emphasis on preparing students to effectively address fast-changing situations utilizing both creativity and entrepreneurship. Our expert career counseling for students speaking different languages and of varying backgrounds, along with hands-on internship opportunities similarly helps them connect their learning experience to their career aspirations in the real world

As we begin a new school year, we welcome in and celebrate with all of our students who already have reached a milestone by being here. Now, as they pursue their studies at HAC— one of the fastest growing institution of higher learning in Israel—we know that collectively we are the starting point for the ever-expanding, multi-talented Israeli workforce. The Innovation Authority’s report is a challenge to the entire country—one we believe that HAC can help the country meet head on. Through personal attention provided to each and every student, we will continue to help our graduates find employment, success, and fulfillment in their field. Welcome to the new year.

About the Author
Prof. Bertold Fridlender is President of Hadassah Academic College.