Plans made to reduce haredi unemployment
In discussion initiated by Industry, Trade, and Labor Ministry, number of solutions put forth to lower unemployment in haredi sector, to recognize core studies in haredi institutions, coordinate haredi training courses with market needs, and to subsidize their families
Gil Kol • Ynet
Haredi leaders from various parties participated Wednesday in a discussion held at the behest of Industry, Trade, and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer to find solutions for the bleak employment outlook in the sector ahead of the cabinet discussion on the matter next week.
Some of the solutions put forth that received initial enthusiasm were encouraging professional education for the haredi population through provision of living expenses and scholarships, recognition of core curriculums at haredi educational institutions, expanding the existing track in the ministry for employing haredim in accordance with market needs, higher subsidies for haredi families, and day care centers that will allow haredi women to contribute to the household income.
Another solution suggested during the discussion is instituting a targeted college preparatory program from haredi students to allow them to close existing knowledge gaps.
In this context, it should be noted that efforts to instate core subjects in haredi curriculums have failed thus far and that ministry officials recommend not forcing these subjects on haredi students, instead leaving the decision in the hands of haredi graduates whether they would like to complete their basic education.
'Cabinet will get on board'
At the end of the discussion, Minister Ben-Eliezer asked that the meeting's participants choose five to six representatives to sit with the ministry's director-general to draft an action plan.
Regarding the plan's projected cost, Ben-Eliezer said, "If there is a breakthrough, thousands of haredim will join the workforce. I am certain that the Finance Ministry and the entire cabinet will get on board and help us."
Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias claimed that the government must allow the haredi public to continue living their lives as they sit fit, but also provide tools to address the issue at hand. "We are prepared to continue living in poverty if getting out of it necessitates a change in lifestyle," said Minister Atias.
The deputy finance minister said that his ministry is prepared to help, and that "only the population that does not study (in Torah institutions) must be targeted."
Modiin Illit Mayor Rabbi Yaakov Gutterman said, "Free daycare and nursery school must be provided or every haredi woman who wants to work."
Solutions raised in the discussion
The haredi population it seems will continue to rely on the women in the sector. One main solution offered touches on expanding job training and education for women via seminars and additional learning frameworks for older women in accordance with the labor market's needs.
Another solution is providing scholarships and partial living stipends to those in need in order to expand the study of engineering within the sector.
The Industry, Trade, and Labor Ministry recommended providing tax breaks for employers who hire haredi employees in the long run.
Out of concern that haredi women could be exploited in the workforce, the ministry emphasized, "It is important to ensure that the women's salaries in the ministry's labor track reflect the real market salary."