IDF soldiers take part in a ceremony marking the Ethiopian Jewish holiday of Sigd .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Ministerial Committee on the Integration of Israeli Citizens of Ethiopian Descent into Israeli Society authorized a NIS 55 million dedicated multi-year program on Monday aimed at facilitating the integration of Ethiopians into Israeli society.
The program, submitted by the Economy Ministry, will be spread over four years and aims primarily to better integrate 3,600 people of Ethiopian origin into the job market.
“The program approved today by the ministerial committee is the result of a long process that included cooperation between various units within and outside the Ministry, fruitful consultation with people of Ethiopian descent, and an analysis of the current situation in the economy,” said Michal Fink, Senior Director for Strategy and Policy Planning at the Economy Ministry.
The government initiative aims to focus on increasing employment rates, finding high-quality jobs, increasing salaries, developing and advancing human capital and increasing the number of business enterprises for Ethiopians.
“While the participation rate [in the workforce] for those of Ethiopian origin is similar to that of the general population, their unemployment rate is higher (8.8% as against 5.9% in the general population), and the gaps in salary are significant: there is a 40% gap as compared to the general population, irrespective of education,” he explained.
Among other elements, the program includes guidance for better employment, providing vouchers for vocational training, the launch of a dedicated enterprise fund, an incentives program for employers to employ those of Ethiopian origin at high salaries, and a track for job placement for academics.
The Economy Ministry committee was created following Government Resolution 1300 in February 2014, which obligated the government ministries to recommend a new policy for advancing the best possible integration of those of Ethiopian origin in Israeli society, as well as Resolution 324 from July 2015, which authorized the acceptance of the program’s cornerstones.
The Prime Minister’s Office will coordinate the ministerial programs, while a joint committee of a representative of the Economy Ministry and representatives of the Ethiopian community will be established to implement the program.
As part of the initiative, an inter-ministerial program jointly operated by the Senior Deputy Director-General and Head of Employment, the Israel Small and Medium Businesses Agency, the Investment Center and the Commission for Equal Employment Opportunities was also established.
“I believe that our professional work in cooperation with the community representatives will lead to the advancement of those of Ethiopian origin and the achievement of significant targets in their integration in high-quality positions in the job market,” added Fink.