Economy Minister Naftali Bennett inaugurated on Tuesday two Riyan Employment Guidance Centers for the Bedouin population in Lakiya and Rahat in southern Israel.
The centers have been in operation since 2013 in accordance with the government decision No. 3708, a program created to promote economic growth and development of the Bedouin population, and are two of nine such centers that will serve the Bedouin community in the Negev.
The center in Rahat is the largest of 21 centers spread throughout the country, and serves about 60,000 residents of Rahat and its environs, which rates poorly on the socio-economic scale.
The Riyan Employment Guidance Centers have been categorized as a 'One Start Shop' for the Bedouin unemployed, enabling them to integrate into the workforce in suitable employment.
Bennett said Tuesday that the Bedouin society faces many challenges, but more and more are choosing to leave their homes and acquire a job. "This is a great message for them and the Israeli economy. I met today tens of women in their forties who, for the first time, went to work. They were much moved; so was I," said Bennet.
The centers provide employment guidance and counseling, education guidance and preparatory courses for higher education, 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 Bedouin towns to their places of employment.
To date, the Economy Ministry has established six Riyan centers out of nine in the south that have been planned to open until the conclusion of 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.
In the last two years the employment centers have processed 3,228 requests from Bedouin applicants and have placed 1,858 in employment, a 57% success rate. Almost half of them are Bedouin women.
The government has been working since 2003 to implement a systemic and integrated plan to improve the lives of the Bedouin in the Negev, including the disputed resolution of land ownership issues and related urban planning, employment and education, and the effect of these subjects on living conditions in their communities.
Reprinted with permission from the Tazpit News Agency.