Interdisciplinary effort assists thousands of young Israelis at risk

"Yated" is a national interdisciplinary program for young adults at risk led by JDC, with financial backing from the Labor Ministry.

Young adults from Umm el-Fahm participate in a Yated program (photo credit: Courtesy)
Young adults from Umm el-Fahm participate in a Yated program
(photo credit: Courtesy)
For many young adults from low socioeconomic communities across Western societies, the social support framework that they rely on comes to an end once they turn 18 or complete their mandatory education.
However, in recent years, there has been a growing global recognition of the need to extend that assistance into young adult life, ensuring a pipeline of success and support not only from cradle to college, but also to career.
A 2016 government decision laid the foundation for “Yated,” a national program for young adults at risk (aged 18-25) led by JDC-Ashalim, with a dedicated budget from the Labor Ministry and the participation of 40 different bodies, including 11 government ministries, non-governmental organizations and social entrepreneurs.
Since its establishment, the program has assisted more than 15,000 young adults to improve their prospects, accompanied by 130 social workers across the country. Social workers are trained to cater to the unique characteristics of different groups, including new immigrants, ultra-Orthodox Jews and the Arab sector.
“Available data shows tens of thousands of young adults in Israel at risk who will find it difficult to meet the challenges of life in the 21st century without support and continued accompaniment,” JDC-Ashalim CEO Dr. Rami Sulimani told The Jerusalem Post.
“Investing in this age group promises high social and economic returns in the future – for the young people themselves, for the economy and for future generations.”
Supported by a NIS 125 million ($34.5m.) budget, the program primarily targets young adults who are not enrolled in education, employed or trained (NEET), but also those who require support in areas such as social belonging, emotional well-being and basic physical needs.
Most of the young men and women have been faced with barriers to social integration, such as personal and family obligations.
“This approach is based on the understanding that the ability to deal with a complex social problem is not the domain of only one body. It is especially relevant for a young adult population that must access services from a large number of agencies and organizations,” said Sulimani.
“For the first time, all the relevant ministries are sitting around one table to discuss the issues and make joint decisions.”
This year, the program will benefit from an additional NIS 5 million ($1.3m.) in funding from the Ministry of Labor, and a further 40 social workers to assist the efforts.
“In the coming year, we aim to expand the circle of young adults who advance in areas of life such as education, the army, employment and basic physical needs, and also to work to advance results in the areas of family and social belonging,” Sulimani said.
An increasing global focus on interdisciplinary approaches to assisting young adults at risk follows the growth of a body of academic research in recent years highlighting the need for additional support frameworks.
In 2014, then-US President Barack Obama launched the My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) initiative to address opportunity gaps faced by children and young men of color.
The program focuses on six milestones, ranging from entering school ready to learn to completing post-secondary education and successfully entering the workforce. Nearly 250 cities, counties and tribal nations have signed up to the MBK Community Challenge, aiming to ensure that all young people achieve their full potential.
In Europe, the EU-funded “YOUNG_ADULLLT” comparative research project analyzes lifelong learning (LLL) policies for young adults at risk with the aim to gain insights on the necessities for policies to become effective.
The project aims to provide policy-makers and education authorities, as well as industry and labor market actors, with evidence of successful policies and programs to promote education policy and practice, and different patterns of skills supply and demand.
“Proudly, Israel is at the forefront of the Western countries that have created a national response. Israel is economically successful and a pioneer in many fields, yet alongside this great miracle, socioeconomic gaps are among the highest in the Western world,” said Sulimani.
“JDC understood that without an intensive preoccupation with closing the gaps between different sectors of Israeli society, especially young adults, there is a danger that the country’s tremendous successes will be lost and that the country will fall behind in the future.”