Government approves continuation of Wisconsin plan

Controversial program's reforms will exclude unemployed citizens over the age of 45.

employ tel aviv 88 298 (photo credit: Archive)
employ tel aviv 88 298
(photo credit: Archive)
The government Sunday approved recommendations made last week by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Labor, Trade and Industry Minister Eli Yishai to continue, and even widen, the controversial Mehalev welfare-to-work program while at the same time implementing several changes to its current make up. Very often known by its nickname as the Wisconsin Plan, which has been run as a pilot since August 2005, will now continue for another two years. However, unemployed over the age of 45 will no longer be forced to participate but rather seek employment assistance from the state Employment Service. Other changes to the plan's current make up include personal tracks for each participant to allow them to join the work force, financial bonuses to those who successful find work and the establishment of a professional committee to oversee the plan in the next two years. "We identified the problems with the current program and the inter-ministerial committee suggested its solutions," Olmert told the cabinet. "It seems as if we are now on the right track and it is clear to everyone that the new program will offer greater chances to the weaker segments of society." Until now, the program, which is run in Jerusalem, Nazareth, Ashkelon-Sderot and Hadera, was criticized by participants, social activists and politicians for encouraging the private companies running it to make a profit by getting as many people off welfare as possible.