New gov't programs aim to improve status of Arab citizens

Minority Affairs c’tee approves NIS 6.5m. for new public jobs, university programs in the Arab sector.

311_Avishai Braverman (photo credit: Associated Press)
311_Avishai Braverman
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The Ministerial Committee for Minority Affairs approved on Monday two new government programs aimed at encouraging higher education and employment for Arab citizens.
The first program, which deals with public sector jobs, is a NIS 2.5 million campaign to remove obstacles to and raise awareness of such employment. It was initiated because of the failure to implement a government-approved decision to increase Arab representation in the public service to 10 percent by 2010. The cabinet decision was approved in November 2007, but currently only 7% of public employees are Arabs.
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The program is set to work on two levels – in the government ministries and with the minority population. Most of the funding will pay for an aggressive marketing and advocacy campaign within the government offices and agencies, emphasizing the importance of workplace diversity. Additionally, there will be a substantial increase in the publication of tenders for government posts in the Arab media and a new social networking Web site will be created to inform members of jobs as they become available. The Ministry for Minority Affairs will hold job fairs directed at the Arab population.
“Past governments have wronged the minority populations for years and the figures for minority employment in the public service reflect that well. The government’s decision committing us to adequate representation presents a major challenge and demands both the investment of resources and an attitude of openness on the part of the ministries and the population in general,” Minister of Minority Affairs Avishai Braverman said on Monday. “That is why this plan was put forward. As we progress with the program, we will witness a substantial rise in the rate of minorities employed in the public service.”
The second program the committee approved was a NIS 4m. project aimed at aiding Arab women to complete degrees in higher education and find high-level jobs in the private sector. The plan, which was prepared by the Ministry for Minority Affairs, will help 500 female Arab high school graduates from across the country, who will be chosen for their academic success.
The participants will receive personal attention, assisting them in completing their psychometric exams, aiding them in advanced Hebrew and English learning and guiding them to choose appropriate academic programs. Throughout their university studies, the ministry, via the Minority Population Economic Advancement Authority, will offer the participants support groups to bridge cultural gaps, and summer courses to augment and refresh the material learned. Upon graduation, the participants will take part in career guidance workshops and receive job placement assistance.

According to the ministry spokesman, the aim of the plan is to create a conceptual shift among Arab women in higher education, 44% of whom study to become teachers, to pursue higher academic aspirations. While the general employment rate among Arab women is 18%, the rate for Arab women academics is 72%.
“Empowering Arab women is one of the top priorities of my ministry. This plan is very important and has the potential to bring about a conceptual shift. I am certain that this program’s success will lead to similar projects in the future. In the upcoming years we will launch Arab women into a better future in academia and in the job market,” Braverman said.