Israel Seeks to Boost Hiring Of Arab University Graduates

Gad Lior reports that about 81% of university graduates are employed in the Arab sector, compared with 90% in the Jewish sector, and the main obstacle to employment for non-Jewish workers is racial prejudice. The Israeli government has launched a campaign to encourage the employment of non-Jewish graduates.

al-monitor A laboratory worker looks at a cell phone attached to a lens during a demonstration for Reuters at the Ben Gurion University in the southern Israeli city of Beersheva May 25, 2011. Photo by REUTERS/Amir Cohen.

Topics covered

israel, government, employers, discrimination, campaign, arab, academics

Jun 15, 2012

Arab university graduates earn an average monthly income of $1,885, as compared to $3,149 in the Jewish sector, according to research that explores the integration of minority populations in the job market in Israel. It has also been found that the employment rate among Arab university graduates stands at about 81%, compared with 90% in the Jewish sector. At the same time, many of the Arab university graduates are not employed in their fields of expertise. Thus, for instance, only 1.3% of Arab university graduates who studied computer science or related technological subjects are employed in the hi-tech industry, while 50% of them have to settle for teaching jobs.

Furthermore, a survey conducted among Israeli employers shows that the major obstacles thwarting the employment of non-Jewish workers are prejudice and discrimination on the part of the employers: 22% of the employers canvassed explicitly admitted that they discriminated against job applicants from the Arab sector and 25% of the respondents voiced prejudiced views with regard to these applicants.

It is interesting to note in this context that 94% of the employers who have already employed or are currently employing workers from minority groups are interested in hiring more non-Jewish workers, while only 65% of the employers who have never employed non-Jewish workers before are willing to hire non-Jewish workers.

In light of these findings, the Israeli government launched on Sunday, June 10 a large-scale public-relations campaign with the aim of promoting the employment of non-Jewish university graduates. The campaign was initiated by the Authority for the Economic Development of the Arab, Druze and Circassian Sectors at the Prime Minister's Office, in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. The campaign is designed to raise awareness to the issue and, at the same time, "eradicate stigmas" and advertise incentives the State of Israel offers to employers who are willing to take on non-Jewish workers.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on the eve of launching the campaign that wider integration of minority groups in the job market was in the national interest of the State of Israel. "We have to create conditions that would enable the full integration of university graduates from the Arab sector in the job market. There is no place in Israel for discrimination against one group or another, and we are committed to ensure equal opportunities for all Israeli citizens. The Arab sector is a major growth engine of the Israeli market, and it has not been exhausted yet. I do believe that its integration in the job market would be beneficial not only to the Arab sector itself, but to the State of Israel as a whole."

Mr. Iman Saif, the director of the Authority for the Economic Development of the Arab, Druze and Circassian Sectors at the Prime Minister's Office, said in an interview earlier in the week to Mammon, the financial supplement of the Israeli daily Yedioth Aharonoth, that "the message we seek to deliver to the business sector is that there is an unexploited wealth [of talent and professional skills] among the minority population, and this is the pool of university graduates. Integrating them into the workforce would significantly contribute to the Israeli market and promote economic growth. From now on, the government will encourage, by means of a wide-ranging campaign, their employment in the job market. We are confident that the business sector will respond to the campaign, take part in the project and take on [non-Jewish] workers."

The campaign, produced by the Government Press Office (GPO), includes TV and radio broadcasts, advertising on the Internet and ads in the newspapers.

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