Yishai plans dramatic changes for Mehalev [p.16]

Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai, plans to introduce dramatic changes and incentives to the economic model of the government-run Mehalev welfare-to-work pilot program, unofficially known as the Wisconsin Program, which will award companies and individuals for participation and achieved job placements rather than on the basis of cancelled welfare allowances. Until now, the program's structure, which aims at getting the unemployed off benefits, would award companies per welfare allowance canceled rather than for per job placement achieved. Currently, there are four Mehalev pilot projects operated by private companies in Jerusalem, Nazareth, Hadera-Wadi Ara and Ashkelon-Sderot. Beginning in April 2007, Yishai wants to implement a new economic model, whereby the companies will be paid according to their success in professional work placements. The government will share 70 percent of the program costs, while the job centers will absorb the rest. As an addition to the new economic model, Yishai will introduce a financial incentive support package of up to NIS 4,200 a year to help participants of the program to integrate themselves into the work place. Furthermore, Yishai announced Thursday that 5% of the government savings from cancelled welfare allowances would be allocated for social projects in the places where the program operates. In 2007, an additional budget of NIS 10 million will be awarded for 800 study grants for people in technology fields who have left the work place.