Skills mismatch and the migration paradox of Israeli life scientists

Nir Cohen, Nurit Eyal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The paper examines the nexus between skills mismatch, educational/industrial policies, and brain circulation in Israel. Focusing on the field of life sciences (LS), it argues that migratory movements of highly educated Israelis are fueled by vertical (inadequate level) and horizontal (inadequate type) skills mismatches. It shows that whereas many so-called bio-brains migrate due to being underqualified (lacking postdoctoral training), their return is often delayed or prevented altogether due to shortage of academic positions and the incompatibility between their fields of (academic) specialisation and the (industrial) jobs available in the country's small LS industry. Drawing on primary and secondary qualitative data, the paper analyses the structural forces and agentic articulations behind this migration paradox, which sees departing bio-scientists who are underqualified for academic positions becoming (potential) returnees who are largely overqualified and inappropriately trained for industrial jobs. The paper concludes by highlighting potential avenues for research on the links between skills mismatch and international mobility.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2453
JournalPopulation, Space and Place
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


  • Israel
  • higher education
  • life sciences
  • migration
  • skills mismatch


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