Ben-Eliezer unveils plan to integrate 135,000 workers over the next 10 years

Obstacles to haredim, Arab women, handicapped to be removed.

By SHARON WROBEL
August 4, 2009 09:30
2 minute read.
MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer.

ben eliezer at post 248.88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
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Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer plans to integrate 135,000 people into the workforce by removing obstacles that inhibit the entry of haredim, Arab women and the handicapped. "We are taking steps to remove obstacles related to education and professional training, transportation difficulties and discrimination," he said Monday. The Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry will allocate NIS 175 million a year for 10 years to finance the plan, the ministry announced. Ben-Eliezer commissioned the ministry's research division to conduct a study of the labor market and the population's participation rate. It focused on two questions: how many people who do not work on a regular basis can be integrated into the labor market, and which segments of the population should be the focus of the plan. For Israel to be one the 15 leading countries in terms of per capita income within a decade, it needs to increase the participation rate in the labor market and improve economic fundamentals, according to the study. While the average labor-participation rate in the G7 countries is 74 percent, in Israel it is 71%. "To close the gap in the labor-participation rate between Israel and the average in G7 countries, an additional 135,000 people need to enter the labor market out of the group that is not part of the workforce today," the study said. "For the integration of this group into the labor market, the government and the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry will have to institute efficiency programs over the coming years, with the aim of removing employment obstacles." The study recommends a target of 13,500 people a year joining the workforce over the next 10 years, in addition to natural growth of 80,000 to 100,000 people entering the job market year-on-year. The study recommends the integration of 60,000 Arabic women, 35,000 haredi workers and 40,000 people who have disabilities. The Reut Institute has embraced the Israel 15 Vision, which calls for Israel to become one of the 15 leading countries in terms of quality of life within 15 years, particularly in the areas of economic and social development. "In order to realize this vision, Israel's social and economic performance must leap to a point where it catches up with the most-developed nations," the Reut Institute said in a recent report. "Israel suffers from a particularly low level of participation in the labor force," the report said. "Hence, the inclusion of the ultra-Orthodox community and the Arab Israeli sector into the labor force must become a national project." Ben-Eliezer also plans to implement measures that will help people with handicaps to establish 150 to 200 new businesses. In addition, the ministry will take steps to help avert the closure of existing businesses that are having difficulties. The ministry said it would allocate NIS 5m. for this project.

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