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New Program Aims at Integrating Ultra-Orthodox into Workforce

The Technion has launched a new program, aimed at integrating the ultra-Orthodox community into Israeli workforce.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 5/13/2012, 6:35 PM

Hareidis at a job fair
Hareidis at a job fair
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The Technion Institute of Technology has launched a new program aimed at integrating members of the ultra-Orthodox community into the technology-driven workforce.

The Technological Education Program intends to engage ultra-Orthodox Jews, who often devote the majority of their time to Torah study, rather than studying disciplines such as mathematics and the sciences.

According to reports, more than 25 percent of Israel’s first-grade children are ultra-Orthodox, and the education they receive typically does not include the core studies necessary for developing technological and scientific skills.

The Technion, a highly competitive educational institution that prepares students for Israel’s high-tech economy, has based the program at the Haredi College in Bnei Brak, the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood near Tel Aviv, making it attractive to potential students, who tend to be married with children and reluctant or unable to leave their communities to move near the Technion campus in Haifa.

Developed at the Technion Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the new program is based on a partnership with the Israeli Mapping Center, a government institution in charge of mapping the Jewish state. Graduates will earn a bachelor’s degree in mapping and geoinformation and be granted an accredited surveyor license. The Israeli Mapping Center will guarantee jobs to graduates of the program, which is accredited by Israel’s Council on Higher Education.

Organizers are hopeful that once graduates enter the workforce, they will serve as role models, demonstrating that there need not be a contradiction between participation in the workforce and the ultra-Orthodox way of life.

“This program takes into account cultural and political constraints, and provides these young people with the tools needed for entering the job market, including core studies to which they were not exposed in school,” said Arnon Bentur, civil and environmental engineering dean. “By following these core studies with education for a profession, we will boost Israel’s technological sector.”