Economy Minister Bennett inaugurated two employment guidance centers for the Bedouin population in the south – Lakiya and Rahat. The minister set a deadline of end 2014 for the opening of all nine centers aimed at the Bedouin population at a total investment of NIS 100 million.
(Communicated by the Economy Ministry)
About 200,000 Bedouin live in the south of Israel, concentrated in cities and settlements such as Rahat, Hurra, Tel Sheva, Segev Shalom, Arara and Lakiya. Employment statistics show that, despite the systematic increase in the rate of employment among Arab women aged 25-64 (30.5% in 2013), only 18% of Bedouin women in the same age bracket are in employment and about 80% are not even seeking employment. With only 44% of Bedouin men employed, these figures have a direct impact on poverty in the community. In addition, among employed Bedouin women, a high proportion work in professions that are in decreasing demand such as teaching, agriculture and cleaning.
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett noted that "connecting the Bedouin population to the job market is of the greatest importance, not only for them but also for Israel’s economy and society. The Israeli government is ready to extend a hand to integrate the Bedouin in all spheres. Today, I was fascinated by what I saw. There is a positive spirit and a genuine desire to take responsibility and you will receive our support. "
Minister Bennett added that he also owes a special personal debt to the community: "A Lebanese Bedouin saved my life during my army service, so I also feel a personal debt to the Bedouin community. In the name of the government of Israel, I say that we love you. we will do all we can, in cooperation with you, to integrate yet more Bedouin men and women into the workforce."
Director of Employment Regulation & Senior Deputy Director General Michal Tzuk noted: "Increasing the rate of employment in the economy and, in particular, increasing the rate of employment among the minority communities is a key target of the Ministry of Economy. The employment situation and economic development in the Bedouin sector in the South demands special attention and treatment and we invest significant resources and develop long-term programs to this end. The employment guidance centers serve as a basic infrastructure on which the Economy Ministry will develop additional services for the Bedouin sector, primarily the guidance centers for higher education in professions that are in demand, as well as finding employment for people with disabilities."
The employment guidance centers are operated by the Economy Ministry in cooperation with the Prime Minister’s Office and Joint Distribution Committee Israel. The Ryan Employment Guidance Center is a One Start Shop for the unemployed to integrate into the workforce in suitable employment. The centers provide employment guidance and counseling, education guidance and courses to higher education level, preparation for the workplace, proper placement and long-term employment support. Work assignments are implemented thanks to the development of relations with employers and, on occasions, with assistance in transporting employees from Arab settlements to their places of employment.
The program in the south began as a pilot in February 2010 with the establishment of centers in Hurra, Segev Shalom and the Beer Sheva region. As a result of the pilot program’s success in establishing relations with the community, it was decided to roll out the program to other Bedouin settlements. The Economy Ministry is promoting the project within the framework of government resolution 3708 and signed a multi-year agreement beginning 2012 on behalf of the government.
To date, the Economy Ministry has established six Ryan centers out of nine that have been planned until end 2014, in cooperation with the Prime Minister’s Office and the Joint Distribution Committee at a cost of about NIS 100 million over a five year period (2012 – 2016). In the last two years (February 2012 – May 2014) the employment centers have dealt with 3,228 requests from Bedouin and places 1,858 in employment (57% success rate), almost half of them Bedouin women.
During the time in which the program has been running, the centers have worked with nearly 850 employers – many of whom have already hired employees. These include Bezek, Israel Electric Company, Strauss, Soda Stream, Coca Cola etc.