'Shlav Bet' soldiers to get better jobs

IDF promises to utilize professional skills of new immigrants joining the shortened service program.

new recruits 224.88 (photo credit: IDF Spokesman)
new recruits 224.88
(photo credit: IDF Spokesman)
Immigrant soldiers serving in the IDF's Shlav Bet shortened service program will be assigned to technological and academic units that will utilize their professional skills, the army announced Sunday. In addition, the army stressed that immigrant soldiers assigned to more desirable positions would be asked to serve for a longer period, extending their service to at least one year. The IDF changed its policy toward Shlav Bet soldiers after a story in The Jerusalem Post published in August 2007 revealed that the IDF was not efficiently assigning skilled immigrant soldiers with academic degrees, work experience and high motivation to positions that would utilize their skills and education. The standard Shlav Bet program, designed for new immigrants between the ages of 22 and 25 who are required to serve in the IDF, lasts from four to six months. The program includes basic training and an optional ulpan. The IDF's ulpan class, especially designed for new immigrants, spans two months and is taught by soldiers from the Education Corps. Olim who arrive after the age of 25 will not be allowed to volunteer for the program. After the ulpan, the soldiers spend three months training for a variety of positions, including tractor and truck drivers, tank mechanics and artillerymen. The feeling among many new immigrant soldiers who fall into this category is that the IDF does not take their work experience and academic education into consideration when allocating army jobs, and does not invest in them because of the shortened period of military service. Native Israeli men and immigrants who serve in the army before the age of 22 serve three years; women serve 18 months. Some of the unsatisfied soldiers said they wished they had made aliya after the age of 25 to escape what they termed "useless" service in the army. "Today, the army fights for every soldier against the private sector," a Shlav Bet soldier told Post military correspondent Yaakov Katz in August. "When it receives highly skilled and highly motivated resources, it should not waste them through bureaucratic inefficiency." On Sunday, the IDF promised its new program would better utilize the professional skills the newly arrived soldiers bring with them, starting from the current Shlav Bet induction. "According to this new policy, the recruits will participate in a seminar in which explanations on the IDF's needs and opportunities will be given to them," the IDF said. "Afterward, the soldiers will be interviewed for the available positions in technological units and will be assigned in accordance with their skills and professions."