The Ministry of Finance has begun pushing for the hiring of Israelis in temporary jobs in multilateral international banks all over the world. This new venture is designed to both enhance Israeli influence on international financial institutions and to expose the Israeli economy to these banks. A first group of six Israelis will begin a year of training next month at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in London and another Israeli will begin training at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Globes reports.
The initiative came about because of the absence of Israeli involvement in the activity of banks managing $100 billion in investments in infrastructure, health, and cyber ventures, mainly in developing countries. A survey by the Israel Ministry of Finance chief economist published this week found that of 8,000 tenders totaling $14 billion published by the World Bank in 2015, an Israeli company won one tender worth $1 million.
Israeli involvement in international financial institution has also waned with time. At the International Monetary Fund (IMF), where Governor of the Bank of Israel Dr. Karnit Flug and former Ministry of Finance chief economist Michael Sarel once worked, three out of 3,600 employees are Israelis, less than the number of Palestinians.
According to Matan Lev-Ari, who manages the Ministry of Finance's international organizations unit, jobs have become available in EBRD and IDB, two of the four financial institutions of which Israel is a member. The other two institutions, the World Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), have no relevant training programs.
The Ministry of Finance initiated the project and managed the search for candidates and the preliminary selection processes. The main threshold requirement was a degree in subjects, such as economics, water, or economic agriculture, that are relevant to projects in developing countries. The three days of preparation concluded with a meeting with the Israeli president, business groups, and scientists, who talked to them about the advantages that Israel had to offer developing countries in various areas.
"We realized that we want to learn more about the banks' activity and for there to be an Israeli presence enabling these institutions to become better acquainted with what Israel can offer," Lev-Ari said. "What we were unsure about was whether to take two high-level officeholders and get them jobs in the bank or a larger group of young people who have just finished university or have served in a junior position. We chose the second option and devoted thought to selecting jobs in departments at the banks in which the people involved can also influence - those that have the highest interface among the bank's employees."
Candidates selected for the program from the government sector included Shani Breslauer, 33, a banking and finances team leader in the economic department at the Israel Antitrust Authority (who was also selected by "Globes" as one of 40 promising young people for 2017). She will work in the agri-business department. Other interns will be placed in the chief economist business development departments and the policy planning department. EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti, who visited last March, expressed enthusiasm about the idea and asked one of the Israeli interns to work in his office. The person selected for the job is a former economist in the National Economic Council who left that position to be an intern for a promising job at Google. Getting jobs at IDB, on the other hand, was difficult due to the need for someone who speaks Spanish at a mother tongue level; the job was eventually left unfilled.
The job terms are not especially attractive, certainly in comparison with the relocation terms offered by large high-tech firms. Interns with families will have to get along in London, one of the world's most expensive cities, with a monthly salary of £2,000. They can take comfort in the professional guidance they will receive from Yael Mevorach, Israel's permanent representative on the EBRD board of directors, who will be the group's mentor. The bank's main theaters of activity are Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. EBRD is active in agriculture, water, infrastructure, health, and recently also cyber. "You are getting a foot in the door in an international financial institution and experience in investments on a scale almost unknown in Israel," Lev-Ari says.