Haredim who train integrate better into secular work

83% of the women and 88% of the men say they had no problem maintaining haredi lifestyle in secular work environment.

By JONAH MANDEL
February 14, 2011 02:15
2 minute read.
A haredi woman-only workplace in Israel

Haredi woman working 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Most haredi men employed in a secular environment wouldn’t leave it for a similar haredi work place, while over two-thirds of the working haredi women with a degree or vocational training would not encourage their sons to undertake training that would lead them to an occupation that is not Torah studies.

These are some of the interesting new data the Industry, Labor and Trade Ministry’s research and economics department released on Thursday following the recent completion of a study examining the integration of haredi men and women with an academic degree or vocational training in the labor market, and their attitudes to the work setting.

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Based on information compiled in a telephone survey reaching over 1,000 haredi men and women with higher education or vocational training conducted by the ministry at the end of 2008, the study showed that despite apprehension, haredi employees manage in a secular, gender-mixed work environment.

Some 83 percent of the women and 88% of the men said they had no problem maintaining their haredi lifestyle in such a setting. And while 47% of the women said they would not leave it in favor of an equivalent haredi place of work, 67% of the men would prefer to stay where they were.

While 70% of the women would discourage their boys from vocational training, a bit over a half of the men replied they would encourage their sons to get training and a job.

The move to the employment is not always an easy one, especially for the men, most of whom study only Torah in their high school years. Some 43% of the men said they experienced difficulties using a computer compared to only 6% of the women, and while 30% of the men said they had trouble reading material in English, some 12% of the haredi women attested to that problem.

As the study’s author states in the preface, the growing financial difficulties of haredi families is the main factor in the increasing numbers of men leaving the world of Torah for employment. But although the respondents had undergone training or acquired academic degrees that should have unequivocally enhanced their earning potential, 52% of the men and 42% of the haredi women said there was no significant change for the better in the economic situation after beginning work in a position fitting their skills.

Head of the research and economics department Benny Pfefferman said that the work places have apparently adapted to a certain extent to the haredi employees’ needs. At the same time, he noted, the daily contact in the work domain seems to have diminished the haredi workers’ fears that their unique lifestyle would be compromised.

New Industry, Labor and Trade Minister Shalom Simhon said that integrating haredim in the labor market is a central goal, and a precondition for economic growth in the coming years.


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