Tamar Gil Menachem, Deputy CEO of the Lauder Center for Employment in the Negev on behalf of Jewish National Fund-USA, spoke at the Maariv 2019 Leadership Conference, which was held on Wednesday, and stressed the importance of the Negev’s development for Israel’s future. Employment is the first consideration of young adults when choosing where to live, said Menachem, and this prompted Ron Lauder, the well-known Jewish activist and philanthropist, to establish the Lauder Employment Center in the Negev in 2015, which is run in partnership with JNF-USA and Ben-Gurion University. Menachem pointed out that although the Negev constitutes 62% of the country's land, only 8% of the population live in the Negev. Furthermore, the employment rate in the country’s center is 15% higher than in the Negev, and wages in the center are 30% higher. “It is not surprising,” said Menachem, “ that young people think that in order to have a great career they have to live in the center of the country.” Menachem warned that this thinking cannot continue, as there are already 6 million residents living between Gedera and Hadera, and by 2048, 13 million people are expected to live in Israel’s center – which is simply not sustainable. The State of Israel understands the need to populate the Negev, and in recent years, has invested NIS 50 billion in various projects in the area. Transportation has improved, Beer Sheva has become the Cyber Capital, with a high-tech park with 2,500 employees from 70 different companies. Over the next several years, 65,000 jobs are expected to be created in the Negev thanks to all these developments, and the IDF move south.
Menachem explained that there many young people in the Negev who would like to remain – tens of thousands of students studying at universities and colleges, as well as those who have grown up there, who want to remain, if only they could fulfill their professional goals in the area.“It is for this reason that the Lauder Employment Center was established,” said Menachem. “Our goal is to work with young people from all the populations in the Negev who are already here, love the area, and want to stay - but for the time being can't find work.” As a key component of JNF’s Blueprint Negev, The Lauder Employment Center works with government offices, public bodies and authorities, and with industry and high-tech employers to recognize the challenges of the entire employment market and to understand the day-to-day needs of companies. In addition, the Center works with thousands of students and institutions that work with young adults, including Ben-Gurion University and 6 other colleges in the Negev, and employment organizations. “Every success, every placement, every young person who stays in the Negev is a world unto himself,” said Menachem. “This means a family that will grow in the Negev, children who will study in Negev schools, and more companies from the Center that will move their offices south.” Menachem added that Mr. Lauder and JNF-USA will replicate this model next year by establishing the Lauder Center for Employment in the Galilee.
Tamar Gil Menachem, Deputy CEO of the Lauder Center for Employment in the Negev on behalf of Jewish National Fund-USA, speaks at the Maariv 2019 Leadership Conference