Helping haredim find work
Photo: Gil Yohanan
The Higher Education Council is working on a new program in the aims of bringing thousands of ultra-Orthodox students into academic institutions.
The plan is meant to boost haredi integration in higher education institutions in order to improve their ability to later join the workforce. The program was formulated by Manuel Trachtenberg, the director of the National Economic Council, and is expected to be unveiled in a few months.
According to the new model, students will be joining institutions that are especially designed for haredim and are currently operating in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak, a well as other schools that are already open to haredim and wish to expand the trend.
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The program is expected to focus on areas that will enable students to join the workforce, such as social work, education administration, nursing, and so on.
However, some critics say the plan will not resolve the issue of low Orthodox employment rates. Professor Dan Ben-David, who directs the Taub Center for social policy research, believes the program is no more than a limited cosmetic solution.
A study recently undertaken by the Taub Center showed highly disturbing figures. For example, the rate of haredi men in the 35-54 age range who are not working grew threefold within three decades, to 65%. Ben-David says that in order for haredim to join the workforce, they must study the core curriculum, with a focus on sciences, as early as in elementary school.
"The program is important, yet we should not exaggerate the achievements it can elicit," he said. "The haredi community grows at an immense rate and we want it to have the ability to join the modern job market. It's important that they attend university, yet the question is what they'll be studying and with what kind of tools they'll be arriving, in light of the fact that they don't study many subjects at all."
"We'll need doctors, physicists, high-tech staff – professions that require technical-scientific-mathematic education at the highest level in the world," Ben-David adds. "If the haredim don't have this, they will be relegated to being lawyers or social workers at most. I don't belittle this, yet they need to be part of modern society, with scientists and high-tech workers."
"The plan is not the solution – it is merely part of the solution," the economic expert says. "The real solution is for them to taste everything the university can offer…should haredi children not get the proper education now in fundamental areas, they're a lost cause."