A laborer works on an apartment building under construction in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Following a year and a half of negotiations, the Finance and Economy ministries have approved a NIS 90 million program to train Israelis for construction jobs.
“This is huge news for the sector and the economy in general. The employment terms we agreed upon are unprecedented,” Union of Construction Workers chairman Yitzhak Moyal said.
He led the negotiations alongside the Association of National Builders.
The government funds will help 2,000 Israelis in construction and promise them attractive salaries starting at NIS 9,000 six months later.
“If I had an opportunity like that the day I was discharged from the army, I would have seriously considered it,” Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said.
“The shortage of skilled workers in the construction industry has deep repercussions for Israel’s economy,” he said.
Currently, Israel brings in large numbers of foreign workers to help fill the needs of the construction industry.
Lack of local talent increases construction costs and housing prices, a trend the program hopes to reverse.
The program, which will be managed by the Construction Aid Foundation, aims to increase the pace and production of construction by subsidizing training and setting the lofty starting salary.
The foundation will have a NIS 10m. budget for managing and advertising the program.
It is meant to kick off within the coming weeks.
“Training Israeli workers in construction in Israel is a necessary step in our goal of lowering the price of housing,” Finance Minister Yair Lapid said. “Incorporating thousands of Israeli workers in the sector will help construction companies and produce an increase in housing starts, which will grow the supply of apartments in Israel.”
The program will also help ultra-Orthodox Jews enter the labor market, he said.
It was a good month for Moyal. Last week, he was elected to the leadership of the European Regional Council of BWI, an umbrella group for the construction sector.
At the regional conference in Ireland, Moyal had constructive talks with his Turkish counterpart on improving ties, and he promoted a campaign to prevent Qatar from hosting the World Cup in 2020.