Ben-Eliezer presents plan to boost employment among haredim

Main components include more training options, support for employers and haredi mothers, and encouragement of IDF and civil service.

May 17, 2010 07:23
2 minute read.
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer visits Afula

Binyamin Ben-Eliezer visits Afula 311. (photo credit: Yoram Cohen)

On the same day the Central Bureau of Statistics released data showing that haredi participation in the workforce was the lowest of all Israeli religious groups, Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer presented Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday with his ministry’s program to encourage haredi employment, during a special meeting on the subject.

The program will focus on four facets of helping promote haredi workforce participation, and strive to set a long-term change in motion within that sector.

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Vocational training options for haredi women will be expanded and adapted to the market’s needs, according to the plan. Engineering training for haredi men will also be broadened and made more accessible through scholarships. Preparatory programs will be made available for haredim who wish to pursue academic studies but lack the sufficient background, and an information center will provide details of the options available for those interested in vocational training or higher studies.

The ministry’s plan also hopes to present haredim with the option of learning core-curriculum subjects, such as English, math and science. Haredi high schools are currently not legally bound to teach such subjects, which are an essential component of successful integration in the work market, according to the ministry.

The second part of the plan pertains to employers, who will receive benefits for hiring haredim. The ministry will also continue encouraging and aiding haredi entrepreneurship and small businesses, as well as providing grants for the establishment of industrial zones in the vicinity of haredi populaces, which tend to prefer working near their homes in an atmosphere that corresponds to their lifestyle.

Third, the ministry notes the importance of continuing to improve the services provided by the existing Employment Development Centers for Haredim (MAFTEAH), and stresses the need to provide subsidized daycare centers for the children of working haredi women.

The final dimension of the plan deals with the need to continue augmenting the numbers of haredim who enlist in the IDF or take part in national volunteer service. Such frameworks, according to the ministry, have engendered significant changes among young haredi men who seek to join the workforce. The ministry also suggests limiting the quota of haredim who may serve as volunteers within haredi frameworks, in order to expose the young men to the general Israeli work market.

Upon presenting the program, Ben-Eliezer ordered the immediate appointment of a head of staff for haredi employment, to ensure the plan’s implementation.

Last week, Ben-Eliezer met with various haredi leaders and stressed the need to join forces in order to bring as many haredim as possible into the Israeli workforce.

“The sights on the haredi streets are not easy – squalor and crowdedness prevail. I don’t like that, and am sure you don’t either,” he told the haredi leadership. “And that’s what we must change.”

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