In the 1980s, high-technology industries received the greatest attention from the government. Israeli electronics companies competed worldwide and in some cases were leaders in their fields. Israel's Scitex was a leading image-processing firm, Laser Industries led in laser surgery, Elbit led in defense electronics, and Fibronics led in fiberoptic communication. In 1985 the electric and electronic equipment industry represented 4.5 percent of industrial establishments, 12 percent of industrial employment, and almost 13 percent of industrial revenues.
Despite the success of the electronics industry in the 1980s, experts predicted that in the 1990s this sector will face a shortage of engineers and technicians. A major reason for this shortage is the lower net pay for engineers in Israel relative to the United States. An identical 1985 gross salary of US$30,000 in Israel and in California would generate a net income of US$9,000 in Israel and US$20,000 in California. Although the Israeli would consume a higher amount of social services than his or her counterpart in California, a wide gap would remain between the two salaries. As long as this gap exists, Israel will have difficuly keeping skilled engineers.
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