'Four out of 10 new immigrants to Israel consider returning to country of origin'

Six out of 10 new immigrants, or olim, polled responded that the primary barrier to employment in Israel is a lack of knowledge regarding the Israeli job market.

February 21, 2015 23:30
3 minute read.

Schoolchildren and Olim 758. (photo credit: KKL-JNF)


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Around 40 percent of recent immigrants to Israel consider returning to their countries of origin, according to a study carried out by Gvahim, a nongovernmental organization that works for the integration of immigrant academics. The NGO surveyed 300 new arrivals, 59% of from the United States and France.

Six out of 10 new immigrants, or olim, polled responded that the primary barrier to employment in Israel is a lack of knowledge regarding the Israeli job market, with an additional 28% citing language difficulties.

An overwhelming majority of 88% said having good personal connections is the primary factor involved in obtaining a job in the country while only 24% said that this is the case abroad.

A quarter of those polled stated that the most important move in integrating into the local job market is involvement in government sponsored training programs. Some 22% said there needs to be “a change of attitude by employers regarding hiring olim,” while one in five called for a provision of incentives for hiring immigrants.

“The survey’s findings indicate that the olim population faces specific difficulties in their integration into the Israeli job market,” said Gvahim CEO Gali Shahar. “In view of the recent waves of anti-Semitism in Europe, the task of finding a livelihood for the thousands of olim expected to arrive in Israel becomes a national challenge, which requires the participation of all the bodies involved, government ministries, the business sector and employers from other sectors.”

The government is working on guidelines for easing the transition for accredited professionals.

Last week the cabinet approved a NIS 180 million aliya plan for France, Belgium and Ukraine and within the next month, the Economy Ministry is expected to complete an inquiry into recognizing the French BTS higher technicians’ degree.

Speaking with The Jerusalem Post last week, Dr. Dov Maimon, a French expert who authored the proposal of the Jewish People Policy Institute in Jerusalem, said that the government plan lacked such elements as tax incentives for companies that relocate as well as provisions for business incubators and temporary work permits for physicians and other professionals.

In a statement on Sunday, JPPI president Avinoam Bar-Yosef called the initiative a “positive step in the right direction,” but said that it “takes into account less than one-third of those eligible to make aliya from Western Europe,” including 120,000 French and Belgian Jews who he described as “strong candidates for aliya.”

“The cabinet decision does not take into account JPPI’s recommendation to establish a special administrative unit within the Prime Minister’s Office to oversee and coordinate efforts among the various government agencies involved such a process.

Furthermore, the plan does not mention JPPI’s recommendation to encourage and assist in transferring Jewish-French owned business and investments to Israel, [and] to create appropriate places of employment for the French-speaking new immigrants,” he said.

In response to the Gvahim poll, Avi Zana, who heads the French immigration promotion organization Ami Israel, told the Post that just because a high percentage of immigrants think about emigration is not an indicator of a high rate of return.

Citing statistics that 75% of French Jews have thought about emigrating while the actual number that leaves is much lower, Zana said that 40% of new arrivals considering leaving “doesn’t mean they are going to come back.”

Economic integration is easier for French Jews than Americans, because many find work telecommuting or even flying back-and-forth between the two countries, he added.

“As increasing numbers of Jews leave Europe, we have a unique opportunity to draw unprecedented aliya from Western countries to Israel. In order to do so, however, we must demonstrate that we are serious about helping new immigrants build their lives here,” Jewish Agency spokesman Avi Mayer commented. “We welcome the government’s most recent steps to ease new immigrants’ integration into the Israeli workforce.

At the same time, we call for the development of a comprehensive national aliya strategy in order to ensure that Israel remains the No. 1 choice for Jewish emigrants from Europe and around the world.”

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