Manufacturers and companies that employ haredim and minority populations will be eligible to receive subsidies from the government according to a new program unveiled this week by Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai to encourage job growth among those groups. According to the plan, which was authorized by the government on Sunday, if 90 percent of a company's newly hired workers are haredim or minorities from regions that have been classified as "national priorities," that company will be eligible to receive up to 20% in salary-assistance from the government. Included among the list of "minorities" are Arab and Beduin women. Additionally, companies that hire fewer than 90% haredim or minorities among their new employees will still be eligible to participate in the subsidies program in varying levels, depending upon factors such as the total number of workers employed by the company as well as the revenue generated by the company in a given year. Under the plan, hi-tech companies that employ university graduates from the haredi or minority sectors will be eligible to receive up to NIS 204,000 over five years in government support, as long as they have at least five haredi or minority workers and wages are not less than NIS 9,000 a month. Employment among haredim and minorities is significantly lower than among other demographic groups in Israel, with only 30.6% of haredi men and 40% of haredi women currently employed, compared to 70% among Jewish men and 60% of Jewish women who are not ultra-Orthodox, the ministry noted. With haredi birth-rates soaring, this problem is only going to increase, reasoned the government. The ministry noted that the reclusive lifestyles of haredim impose significant challenges in earning a living and prevent them from accessing employment information. Under this new initiative, however, the ministry hopes to create a situation in which employment becomes more feasible for increasing numbers of haredim as they are presented with job options and environments that are suitable for their way of life. Similarly, according to an analysis by the Central Bureau of Statistics, the numbers of Arab men and women who are currently unemployed is significantly higher (13.5%) than Jews who live in the same cities (9.1%). Overall, said the analysis, when comparing the levels of workplace participation among residents of mixed (Jewish-Arab) cities, 71.2% of Jews are employed, while only 46.3% of Arabs are working. This is due, in large part, to the fact that only 21.6% of Arab women work, compared to 70% of Jewish women. The ministry expects to implement the plan over the next few weeks.