White-haired knights may come to rescue of a Startup Nation starving for workers

White-haired knights may come to rescue of a Startup Nation starving for workers

Israeli firm Legacy sets up database of retired professionals that could help address national shortage of skilled engineers, founder says

An illustration of an armored knight (MalevolentDust; iStock by Getty Images)
An illustration of an armored knight (MalevolentDust; iStock by Getty Images)

The tech industry’s shortage of qualified manpower could be fixed quite easily if the nation taps into the vast amount of knowledge accrued over the years by the senior citizens in its midst, said 70-year old Noam Gleicher, who has set up a database to help active retirees get back into the workforce.

The people he works with have gained decades of experience in a wide range of fields but now that they are retired, spend time at the gym, at the beach or with grandchildren “and don’t do much else,” Gleicher told The Times of Israel. “After two years they already don’t know what to do with themselves.”

Legacy, the company Gleicher founded three years ago with 72-year old Zeev Leshem, a former chief executive of diamond industry tool maker Sarin Technologies, offers these retirees — many of whom don’t need the money — part-time or project-based jobs on a freelance basis that will “give them a sense of worth.”

“This is a win-win for all,” said Gleicher, a former mechanical engineer who also worked in the diamond industry. The part time or ad hoc jobs give retirees a reason to go to work, but still leave them leisure time. At the same time, they provide much needed manpower for firms that find themselves competing for qualified workers, including startups that sometimes can’t afford to pay full-time salaries.

An illustrative image of retirees at the gym (LightFieldStudios; iStock by Getty Images)

Legacy has set up a database of some 700 retirees aged 64 and up, all with at least a graduate degree, including engineers, chemists, economists, financial officers and people whose careers were spent in literature and philosophy, he said. There is also a group of former CEOs, he said, who could become mentors or consultants for young entrepreneurs whose firms are just starting out and cannot afford to take full time experts on board.

Among the engineering jobs currently available on Legacy are quality control engineer, environmental engineer and communication engineer, all of them part time positions.

Noam Gleicher, the co-founder of Legacy, that seeks to match retirees with jobs in Startup Nation (Shoshanna Solomon/Times of Israel)

This potential workforce of retirees, Gleicher said, could come to the rescue of Startup Nation, which is suffering from an acute shortage of some 15,000 skilled workers, mainly software engineers and data scientists. The shortfall is causing local salaries to surge and is pushing firms to seek workers abroad.

Meanwhile, around the world there are more adults over 65 than children under 5, and by 2050, according to United Nations estimates, some 1.6 billion people will be over the age of 65.

Most of the retirees, unless they are computer programmers, don’t need to brush up on their skills before taking a job, Gleicher said. Even computer programmers, he noted, may sometimes find it necessary to tap into their knowledge of languages no longer in use today for specific projects.

Retirees interested in looking for work can sign up via the Hebrew-language website, after which they’ll receive emails with information about job openings. If there is a match, Legacy sets out the contract, pays the worker, and takes a commission. The firm is also responsible for the quality of the work provided and an unsatisfied client won’t get charged, said Gleicher.

Gleicher said he hopes to take Legacy further, by making it a hub for incubation of technologies developed by retirees and by creating a retiree investor club to match investors with entrepreneurs. The database could also be used to help bring Israeli tech expertise to entrepreneurs abroad.

“There is so much we can do with this wonderful group of people,” he said. “All we need to do is spread the word.”

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