Career advancement for marginalized communities throughout Israel

Providing a path to career advancement is one of the most effective ways to enable people to move out of poverty, helping them achieve stability and grow their income over time. But getting on that path can be especially challenging, particularly for marginalized communities.

In Israel, the percentage of young adults who are not employed, in school, or in training (often referred to as NEET) far exceeds the average when compared to their counterparts in other countries. In addition, women, Haredi men, and the Arab population tend to face the highest hurdles to employment due to a range of factors — including lack of access to education and job opportunities, lack of social networks and connections, and discrimination — and are underrepresented in the overall workforce and even more so in the high-tech sector.

To address these disparities and other barriers to employment, the Weinberg Foundation’s grantmaking in Israel focuses on connecting people throughout the country with high-quality jobs. The Foundation works with numerous organizations in the employment sector; this post spotlights a few of them.

One grantee, Appleseeds Academy, offers programming to over 80,000 low-income people annually at 350 sites and dozens of centers throughout Israel. About half of the program participants come from outside of the Jewish community, including Arab, Bedouin, Druze, and new immigrant job seekers. The Foundation is supporting an innovative, multiyear project that aims to move people of all ages out of poverty by equipping them with skills to build careers in the competitive and in-demand high-tech sector. The construction of Appleseeds’ Ramla Social Tech Zone and Future of Work Living Lab will allow the nonprofit to scale and expand its digital literacy, employment, and life-skill programming — and further enhance the city of Ramla’s tech ecosystem by facilitating community events, training programs, and partnerships with startups and larger tech companies.  

Slated for completion in 2024, the new 18,256-square-foot space will feature classrooms with state-of-the-art technology. Appleseeds will use the community spaces to host technology trainings, networking events, conferences, community gatherings, and hackathons for residents of Ramla, a diverse city in central Israel. To help generate diversified income to sustain the organization, Appleseeds will rent shared workspace to tech companies and local entrepreneurs.

Appleseeds’ outcomes are consistently promising. Its two coding bootcamp programs served 50 participants with a 70% job placement rate and a starting monthly salary of 14,300 NIS (or $4,086). One-year retention was 97%.

Two other grantees are making impressive strides in helping women and individuals in the Arab and Haredi communities achieve economic stability and independence through employment and career advancement.

Founded in 1995, Be-Atzmi is a nationwide organization that runs nine employment programs in 150 locations throughout Israel. It offers job-readiness and placement programs, career advancement coaching, and financial literacy training, with programs annually serving about 27,000 individuals who are chronically unemployed or underemployed. Participants include women, Arab Israelis, and the Haredi community. A recent grant from the Weinberg Foundation enabled Be-Atzmi to upgrade its measurement and evaluation systems to improve and expand its employment programs and ultimately boost its job-retention outcomes.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) provides job training for low-income people through its TEVET programs. TEVET’s gap year program, which is based on the OECD’s NEET initiative, a five-year pilot program started in 2022, serves young Arab men women who finish high school with limited employment prospects. To build trust and deepen cross-cultural understanding with the Arab community, JDC-Tevet has recruited Arab professional and nongovernmental organizations to help participants learn Hebrew and English, write resumes, understand workplace culture, and begin a career path.

As the Weinberg Foundation looks to the future of grantmaking in this area, it hopes to address another barrier to employment: Child care represents a significant obstacle, especially for Arab women wishing to enter and excel in Israel’s workforce.

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