French aliya declines in 2016, think tank recommends job assistance to reverse trend

The study says that government’s efforts to overcome deficiencies in aliya processing have been successful, but only minor improvements have been made on social and professional integration.

September 27, 2016 18:06
3 minute read.
french aliya

Largest French aliya flight of the summer lands in Israel, July 20, 2016. (photo credit: TAMARA ZIEVE)

The Jewish People Policy Institute think tank has reported in its annual recommendations to the government that 2016 is likely to see a 40 percent decrease in immigration to Israel from France.

According to the report, this slow down is due to commitments made by the French government to protect the Jewish community and fight anti-Semitism, the increased threat of terrorist violence witnessed in Israel in the last 12 months, and the fact that many ideological Zionist French Jews have already emigrated to Israel.

But perhaps most significantly is a concern among potential French immigrants that will not be able to find employment in their professional field or maintain their standard of living in Israel.

The JPPI points to two recent polls of French Jews which showed that some 200,000 French Jews are considering aliya to Israel. Approximately 20,000 have emigrated to the Jewish state in the last three years.

But whereas there were 7,835 French immigrants to Israel in 2015, there has been a 40% decrease in the first eight months of 2016 compared to the same period a year ago.

The study says that government’s efforts to overcome deficiencies in aliya processing have been successful, but only minor improvements have been made on social and professional integration.

“In order to realize the potential of immigration from France, we should prepare a series of extra efforts, mostly in the realm of employment that will be added to the existing efforts… including a specific focus on giving [immigrants] direction, personally accompanying them [when looking for employment, professional advice, and a placement system,” the report says.

One measure that should be put in place, the JPPI recommended, is enabling the relocation of French businesses by their owners to Israel which would contribute to Israel’s economy and increase the number of potential jobs requiring French-language employees which would be of benefit to other French immigrants.

In addition, structured employment programs for professionals in specific fields, such as researchers, specialist doctors, engineers, and investment consultants should be initiated incoordination with Israeli employers, to match up qualified professionals with fields in the country in need of their expertise.

Finally the report recommended establishing employment centers in cities with large French immigrant populations to provide job seekers with career guidance, professional training courses, and job placement services.

Such guidance and assistance should also be available before immigrants have actually arrived in Israel.

“Because the French olim [immigrants] are highly educated (half of all French immigrants have higher education, and half are under the age of 34), there is no question that such an investment would prove productive and worthwhile for the Israeli economy,” the report concludes.

“If Israel prepares itself to offer such services, it will be able, for the first time in the history of Zionism, to welcome a mass aliya of olim from affluent countries. This would be a historic breakthrough, and would create an opportunity to test new mechanisms that may, in the future, foster large- scale immigration from other western countries. The magnitude of this challenge requires a correspondingly monumental governmental effort.”

Marc Eizenberg, President of the Qualita umbrella organization for French immigrants to Israel, said that Jews in France were hearing from their friends and family members who have emigrated to Israel who have not encouraging them to come and have even warned them from coming.

“Upon their arrival in Israel, French immigrants encounter bureaucracy and many difficulties in finding jobs that fit their professional skills which they obtained in France,” said Eizenberg.

He also pointed to difficulties faced by French children who emigrated with their families in the Israeli school system, saying that this had led to such children dropping out of schools, IDF service and “the collapse of the family unit.”

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