IDF Orthodox program soldiers later enter workforce

70% of the program's graduates go on to enter the Israeli workforce; Bennett says he will invest millions to vocation centers.

Haredi man working 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Haredi man working 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Seventy percent of the haredi men who graduate from the IDF’s Shachar Orthodox service program enter the workforce, a study released on Wednesday by the Economy and Trade Ministry’s research arm showed.
More than 1,000 haredi men have graduated from Shachar, which was developed in 2007 by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the IDF’s Human Resources Directorate to help integrate haredi men through a military technology framework, helping them gain professional experience and fill knowledge gaps.
“Integrating the haredim into Israeli society is no longer a fantasy,” Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett said, welcoming the study results.
In 2012, Bank of Israel Gov. Stanley Fischer said only 40 percent of haredim were employed, a situation he said was unsustainable.
Bennett promised to invest NIS 70 million in haredi vocational guidance centers in places such as Bnei Brak and Jerusalem.
“The haredi public wants to work, but we have some responsibility as well. We have to work hard so the haredi public will have somewhere to work. This is our most worthwhile investment,” he said.
“Although the majority of the graduates found work on their own after being released from the IDF, the essential need for direction, information and professional guidance still stands out,” said Benny Pepperman, who directs the ministry’s research arm.
According to the study, which included 270 graduates of the program and was conducted two to four months after they were released from the army, the average monthly salary for Shachar alumni was NIS 6,250. More than a quarter were working in banking or finance.
Because the study only looked at people who chose to enter and completed the program, however, it cannot be generalizable to the entire haredi community.
Just over a third of those surveyed said they had encountered any opposition from family or friends to joining the army, and a quarter had themselves at one point opposed service.
That opposition, they said, had more to do with concerns about maintaining their haredi lifestyle, and not ideology.
Of those surveyed, the main motivations listed for entering the program were to improve skills for the job market and serve the country.
Just over a third said their relationship with the secular public improved somewhat or greatly after the army program.