Haredi computer science students
Haredi computer science studentsצילום: יח"צ

Haredim are lagging behind the rest of society when it comes to science and technology education, Economy and Industry Minister Orna Barbivai said during a visit to the Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT) last week.

“Haredi students enter the economic arena at a disadvantage due to their lack of basic STEM education. We consider the study of STEM disciplines critical for Haredim to be able to enter the job market. Despite this challenge, JCT manages to achieve the unbelievable in making the most of the opportunities granted to Haredi men and women, by providing them with comprehensive academic training in high-tech and cyber professions,” Barbivai said. “As such, each student receives the tools and equal opportunities required for them to earn a living with dignity. Moreover, on a national level, that success is reflected in their integration as an essential and important part of the workforce.”

Her comments came amid the recently approved state budget which outlined a number of objectives with regard to employment goals and integrating under-represented populations into the high-tech marketplace.

In meetings with JCT administrators and students at the college, the latter shared their perspective on what is needed to achieve said goals and address the unique challenges of the Haredi community.

JCT has earned a reputation for providing high-level STEM education alongside Torah studies. Their robust secular and religious curriculum for both their male and female campuses has made the college a popular choice among Haredim looking to acquire higher education and enter the high-tech market.

MK Moshe Turpaz added that the "integration of Haredim into Israeli society and economy is an urgent national mission for the economic strength of the state. I intend to work together with the Economy Minister to assist her in the promotion of the various programs run by JCT, an institution that allows Haredi students to acquire a higher education in an environment adapted to their worldview and way of life.”

President of JCT Prof. Chaim Sukenik also addressed the labor shortage in high-tech and explained that more trained professionals coming out of JCT benefits both the high-tech sector and Haredi community.

“The acute shortage of high-tech employees can go hand in hand with the need to integrate the Haredi population into the labor market,” he said. “The unique religious nature of JCT and the vast toolbox we have acquired over the years have allowed us to educate in the best way possible. The proof is in the numbers - nearly half of our student body is Haredi – half of whom are studying engineering and high-tech. It should also be noted that we can see a growing desire on the part of the Haredi sector to fit in the industry – it only needs to be done correctly."