State spending millions on useless labor training programs

JIMS report also notes that the programs offered fail to follow guidelines recommended by the OECD, which Israel joined this year.

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December 6, 2010 22:43
3 minute read.
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The Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry is spending more than NIS 600 million on retraining programs for the unemployed but with little success, a study published Sunday by the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies (JIMS) has found.

According to the research, which was undertaken by JIMS policy analyst Yarden Gazit, less than half of those who graduate from government- sponsored retraining courses end up working in the profession for which they are prepared and, in some fields, less than one third of the people go on to find work in their area.

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In addition, the research found that up to one-third of those who participated in the professional courses do not work at all afterwards.

“I looked mostly at unemployed people who take courses offered by the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, and examined how many found work afterwards in the fields they studied,” Gazit told The Jerusalem Post. “Most of the graduates of these courses do not end up finding work in the professions for which they received training and nearly a third end up not working at all.”

The study found that the ministry’s Vocational Training Department, which is responsible for the program, offered courses in professions for which there is little demand in the private sector.

“The most popular courses offered are in the fields of child care, beauty care and the media, professions where there is little work,” Gazit said. Only 5.6% of the graduates received training in professions such as construction, where 16% of available jobs are.

“It’s important to ask why the ministry is supporting such courses when there is little work in those fields,” he continued. “The ministry does not follow up on whether people actually get the jobs afterwards.”

The report also noted that the programs offered fail to follow guidelines recommended by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which Israel joined this year, including greater private sector involvement as well as rigorous measurement and assessment of each program.

In Israel, Gazit wrote, private sector involvement in retraining courses is negligible and no employment targets are set, which makes it difficult to assess any program’s value. The report also revealed that while the ministry spent some NIS 62 million on courses for adults, it allocated only NIS 2.9m. for on-the-job training.

“When employment targets are not set and results not compared, it is no wonder that over the years billions of shekels have been wasted on training for professions in which there is little demand for new workers,” Gazit said.

In response, a spokeswoman for the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry said that a new program was already under way that would include intensive retraining and professional development that had not been seen here in the past. She also said that the criteria for the retraining courses had been changed recently and that the ministry planned to take a close look at the data uncovered in the JIMS report.

Earlier this year, the government scrapped its controversial “Lights to Employment” program (known by its nickname the Wisconsin Plan) and sent thousands of unemployed individuals back to the National Employment Service, which, among its other roles, tries to help unemployed professionals retrain in new careers.

In October, Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben- Eliezer announced that a new employment plan had already been created. It is currently making its way through the legislature.


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