Employers of foreign workers are now a little wiser, thanks to an innovative program hatched by the Foreign Workers Branch in the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry. Over the months of June and July, the Ministry reported on Sunday, some 100 representatives canvassed the country, meeting with more than 1,000 employers of foreign workers in an effort to explain and clarify issues pertaining to the employment of foreigners, such as wage benefits, insurance coverage, working hours and the minimum suitable living conditions for foreign workers. "We initiated this program because we realized that most employers of foreign workers have no idea about what kind of rights their foreign employees are entitled to," said Shalom Ben Moshe, director of the Foreign Workers branch. "We set out to educate and inform these employers of the differences between Israeli and foreign workers and to provide them with the information they need to treat their workers correctly." According to the Ministry, its representatives conducted individual meetings with 500 farmers, 150 restaurant owners, 70 of the country's largest manufacturers and numerous construction companies. "Today, there are over 900 foreigners employed in restaurants across the country, 1,500 in industry and 12,000 in construction," the Ministry noted in its report. Ben Moshe added that Ministry representatives also met with various governmental offices and non-profit organizations that specialize in aiding and assisting foreign workers and also with officials from various embassies in the country. All told, the foreign worker representatives met with 202 businesses in the Jerusalem region, 396 in the Tel Aviv vicinity, 376 in the northern region and 413 in the country's southern region. Separately on Sunday, the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry announced that 3,900 manufacturing companies participated in work-advancement programs in 2006. Some 1,200 manufacturers conducted the programs in-house, while 2,700 hired outside firms to run the seminars, said the Ministry. No less than 65% of manufacturing managers said the work advancement programs had made a significant change in the attitudes of their workers, while 16.5% said that the programs did not impact their employees, the Ministry reported.