yuval steinitz 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The full integration of haredim and Israeli Arabs into the workforce is critical
for the future of the economy, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said
“The economy might be able to grow over the next two, three or
five years if we don’t deal with the incorporation of haredim and Arabs... into
the labor market. But without a change now, within 10 years the situation will
be a catastrophe,” he said at the Caesarea Economic Policy Planning Forum,
organized by the Israel Democracy Institute, in Nazareth.
“We are working
on a basket of measures to deal with the labor participation of these
sectors and to narrow the employment of illegal foreign workers in
“It is a critical issue, which will help to open up new
jobs for Israelis and increase salaries in a number of fields.”
the lack of industry, tourism and services in Arab localities was
the government needed to address.
Steinitz said it was important to
recruit haredi men and women into the labor market when they turn 22,
of them already have two children, instead of waiting until they are 35
as it is the case today, when it is hard for them to find a job with a
As part of the Finance Ministry’s efforts to encourage haredim to
join the workforce, Steinitz said he planned to submit an amendment to
Law that would exempt haredim who are age 22 with at least two children
army service, which would allow them to work.
“If haredim don’t serve in
the army in greater numbers, it won’t have an impact on Israel’s
protect itself,” Steinitz said. “But if haredim don’t significantly
participation in the labor force, we will face a critical problem in the
The integration of the haredi public is essential for the continued
of the economy.”
Haredim are currently exempt from army service if they
are 31 or have at least five children.
“It is our task to turn Israel
into a more equal society, and time is running out,” Industry, Trade and
Ministry director- general Sharon Kedmi said at the conference. “In five
time about 50 percent of first-grade pupils will be from the haredi and
non-Jewish communities, and if we don’t address this scenario, it will
negative effect on the employment rate.
“More than ever we need to remove
obstacles and provide the tools and adopt the workplace environment for
communities, who want to work, whether by providing professional
higher education or day-care centers.”
Dr. Yosef Jabareen, of the
Technion’s Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, said the question
participation of the Arab sector and participation of the haredi sector
not be dealt with in the same manner because the problems are
“Arab society in Israel seeks work and wants to learn and
study, which is the main difference with the haredi population,” he said
“The lost potential to Israel’s economy as a result of the
failure to utilize the potential of the 1.5 million Arab male and female
amounts to NIS 31 billion a year.”
In five years, if the government
doesn’t intervene in boosting Arab employment, Jabareen said, the number
unemployed Arab graduates would reach 30,000 instead of the current
According to research presented at the conference, 59% of Jews
and 42% of Israeli Arabs participate in the workforce, and only 1% of
employees in the hi-tech industry are Arab.