A new program for the unemployed who are seeking professional retraining based on a voucher system to pay for privately run courses in various fields rather than enrollment in state-run courses, was launched this week by the Israel Employment Service. "International studies have shown that unemployed people who are actively involved in choosing a new professional direction are more likely to be successful in finding jobs than those trained under the old system in which the unemployed were dependent on what the Israel Employment Service dictated that they study," said Esther Domenici, the Israel Employment Service's director. Domenici added that, in practice, the new voucher system allowed unemployed people seeking work to enroll immediately once they have found a suitable program, instead of having to wait until the next government-run course commences. The vouchers, which will be worth up to NIS 7,000, are for private courses only, which can be used after receiving approval by the Israel Employment Service. Examples of courses that fall under the conditions of the program are tax consultancy, accountancy, advanced computing application, public car driver, tour guide and fitness instructor. Under the terms of the program, unemployed people are eligible to take part if they have been registered as seeking work for at least two months. Participants will have to finance 20 percent of the course's cost themselves as a sign of their commitment and determination to retrain themselves in order to find employment. The remainder of the cost of the course will be subsidized by the government in three installments. The first installment will paid upon signing up for the course, the second installment will follow once the course finishes and the third installment will be received after the course taker finds employment for a minimum of three months. At the same, the IES promised that those participating in the voucher program will not have to give up 30% of their unemployment benefits while on the course, as is currently the rule for those in retraining courses. Furthermore participants will have to report on a regular basis to the IES during the course, but will not be obliged to accept any jobs that become available during that time. If they wish, they may work part-time while studying. Initially, the program will be run as a pilot program involving some 500 people, under the surveillance of the Brookdale Institute, which will examine the results. If the pilot proves a success, the program will be expanded, the IES said.