World ORT is setting up a groundbreaking vocational training programme to ensure that Israel will be able to fully realise a multi-billion-dollar windfall from the massive gas fields which have been discovered off its coast in recent years.
The organisation’s outgoing Acting Director General and CEO, Sonia Gomes de Mesquita, led extensive negotiations with the Israeli Government to set up the new college certification programme for practical mechanical engineers majoring in energy systems and specialising in natural gas. Now, following a meeting with the Directors General of the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources and the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and Galilee, the $1.8 million programme is ready to start at a college in Be’er Sheva with plans to expand to another college in the Galilee “ﾓ and maybe to further colleges as time goes on.
“This is the first programme of its kind in Israel “ﾓ and it encapsulates everything that World ORT is about: employability, responding to the needs of the markets, educational innovation, imparting practical skills, and supporting Israel’s poorer peripheral communities,”? said Ms Gomes de Mesquita, who is leaving the organisation after 14 years to take up a senior role at the World Jewish Congress.
Since 2009, about 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas has been located off Israel’s coast, enough to make the Jewish State energy self-sufficient for at least half a century and generate enough of a surplus to make it a major exporter to Europe and beyond.
It is estimated that Israel needs some 4,000 trained professionals in order to develop fully the new industry, the establishment of which is expected to add a full one per cent to Israel’s GDP this year alone.
“There’s no overestimating the impact the discovery of these huge gas fields can make on Israel’s society, economy and geo-political reality, so we are delighted that the extraordinary relationship we have built with Israel’s government ministries since 2007 has put us in the position of bringing the necessary resources and expertise to help the country fully exploit this windfall,”? said Avi Ganon, the CEO of World ORT’s programmatic arm in Israel, Kadima Mada.
Under the agreement with the Israeli Government, World ORT will train 300 engineers over the next three years. The course will run for four semesters and not only give graduates a junior college certification but also three-year contracts with the state-owned Israel Gas Company, which is responsible for planning and supervising construction of a natural gas pipeline.
“As part of our on-going commitment to Israel’s under-resourced communities not only are the colleges providing this course located in the periphery but graduates will be required to live in the Negev or Galilee for three years,”? Mr Ganon said.