In 1992, Bill Clinton captured the attention of the American voter by focusing
his message on the then-prevailing recession in the US economy. “The economy,
stupid,” spoke to millions of American voters, and Clinton succeeded in
unseating incumbent George H.W. Bush.
The new academic year will begin
this week. The total number of students entering academic studies will again
remain stable, reflecting a trend seen for the past couple of years. Where
students apply for studies is increasingly related to the skill-set offered by
the teaching institution, reflecting students’ desire to secure employment
High youth unemployment is a global time bomb, and
economists and politicians alike understand that large youth unemployment
threatens the future of individuals and the broader economy and
Everywhere in the western world, the pursuit of higher education
is today directly linked to job opportunities, and only those disciplines that
have a future in terms of working opportunities are the ones that will attract
Israel’s growth and development are intimately linked to its
capacity to generate and educate a welltrained workforce that can keep the
country at the forefront of technology and progress. Hadassah Academic College,
as a career-focused institution of higher learning, has long realized that the
mission of higher learning institutions is not only to educate but also to
prepare and help our young people to find rewarding employment upon
For this purpose we recently created a Career Center that
assists our students from the very first day they arrive to our college until
they find a proper job that satisfies their own objectives. We have also created
an Alumni Association that through the connection with our thousands of
graduates can help the fresh graduates find jobs. This is a model that can be
implemented at other Israeli academic institutions.
We also believe that
the mission of academic institutions does not end the day graduates receive
their degree. On the contrary, we know that the graduates’ success is the
success of their alma matter, and that their inclusion into the workforce will
bring new generations of students striving for success.
A new report by
the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development indicates that
socioeconomic status continues to be a barrier to developing a skilled
workforce. Socioeconomically disadvantaged youth are more likely than their
middle-class, better-educated peers to be unemployed, so that more must be done
to deliberately target these groups.
Academic institutions must do
everything possible to give young people the skills and education that will open
the doors for success and advancement. We know that there are significant groups
in Israeli society that have the capabilities to learn a profession but do not
have the opportunities or the full knowledge of how to go about
Academic institutions’ experience from the work to date with social
groups such as the Israeli Arabs and ultra-Orthodox shows that the first
challenge is to convince the youth that a college education and training toward
a marketable profession will promise them, their families, and their community a
This is a “truism” that is common among the stronger
groups in society, but not among the weaker populations. This includes and
involves filling any academic gaps that exist in their education, followed by
strong counseling support for each student once he/she enters the system plus
financial assistance in most cases.
The outcomes in accomplishing such a
mission go well beyond just providing a profession. The participation of all our
mosaic of cultures in mainstream higher education colleges and universities
creates an environment of dialogue, building bridges of tolerance between
different cultural groups and ensuring a more pluralist and fair
All this needs to be done without compromising the academic
level we provide to all of our students.
Israel’s future is wholly
dependent on its human capital, and it is the nation’s universities and colleges
that are responsible to build this precious resource, one student at a time. We
see this academic year as a turning point that could signal a new trend and
attract many more talented and motivated young people from all parts of Israeli
society into the centers of higher education.
The rising number of
students choosing to pursue their degree at the nation’s academic colleges is
testimony to the vital importance of these institutions in preparing the kind of
skilled labor force that Israel needs to meet future challenges and remain
competitive in today’s world.
Bill Clinton’s campaign managers
recommended a second theme for his 1992 presidential campaign.
read “Change vs more of the same.” Israeli academia would be well advised to
adopt this slogan as its own.
The author is president of Hadassah
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