The Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs convened on Wednesday to discuss the multi-year program approved about a year ago by the Ministerial Committee on the Integration of Israeli Citizens of Ethiopian Descent into Israeli Society, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Committee Chairman MK Avraham Neguise (Likud) opened the meeting by saying, ”For the first time in Israel`s history, a committee headed by the prime minister was set up on the issue of the integration of [Israelis of Ethiopian descent]. We examined the situation on the ground in the local authorities and heard that the budgets designated for implementing the plan have yet to be transferred to them. We will not quit and we won`t give anyone any breaks. We will not let this plan dissolve, as other plans had in the past. The information presented to us by the government offices indicates that they are in an advanced stage of organization. Apart from the Civil Service Commission, none of the offices have begun to implement the plan.”
The program, submitted by the Ministry of Economy and Industry, focuses on the following policy targets: integration in high-quality employment appropriate for qualifications, while increasing salary and employment rates, development and advancement of human capital, and increasing the number of business enterprises. The program has a budget of over NIS 55 million, to be spread over four years.
(Committee Chairman Neguise during past visit to absorption center)
Among other elements, the program includes guidance for better employment, providing vouchers for vocational training, the launch of a dedicated enterprise fund, an incentives program for employers to employ those of Ethiopian origin at high salaries, and a track for job placement for academics. The main measure of success for the program is upgrading employment, while integrating 3,600 people of Ethiopian origin into the job market.
The Ministry of Economy and Industry program for integrating those of Ethiopian origin in the employment market was created following Government Resolution 1300 from 9 February 2014, which obligated the government ministries to recommend a new policy for advancing the best possible integration of those of Ethiopian origin in Israeli society, and Resolution 324 from 8 July 2015, which authorized the acceptance of the program’s cornerstones. The Prime Minister’s Office is coordinating the ministerial programs.
Udi Praver, a Deputy Director General in the Prime Minister`s Office, said that in two weeks a meeting will be held with representatives of all the local councils ”to examine the implementation of the plan and why the budgets have not been received.”
Col. Eran Shani, commander of the IDF`s induction base in Tel Hashomer, noted that there has been a 6% decline in the number of Ethiopian Israelis who do not complete their army service, a 6% drop in the number of Ethiopian Israeli soldiers who go AWOL, and a 7.3% increase in the recruitment of female Ethiopian Israelis.
Education Ministry representative Irit Biran presented the details of a NIS 192 million plan to train 300-600 Ethiopian Israelis to become teachers and to help Ethiopian Israeli pupils with their studies.