The Ministry of Economy, headed by Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett, announced the winners of a tender for the training and integration of Arab, Druze and Circassian academics into the hi-tech sector, with 10 million shekels (over $2.5 million) to be transferred to the organizations over the next three years.
The winners, Tsofen and ITworks, are to receive the state funds so as to examine the manpower needs of hi-tech employers in northern and central Israel where much of the Israeli Arab community is located, and to guide, train and place Arab students in hi-tech companies.
While hundreds of Arab, Druze and Circassian students complete studies to work in hi-tech every year, they reportedly have trouble finding employment in the field.
Back in 2012, the Ministry of Economy adopted a program to encourage Arab employment on the recommendations of the Trajtenberg Committee which focused on socio-economic change. As part of that push, the proposal to implement a government program encouraging Arab employment in the hi-tech industry was approved.
"We view the encouragement of high level employment that offers good salary and employment conditions as a significant component in strengthening economic growth and narrowing the social and economic gaps between population sectors in Israel, and between national priority areas and central Israel," said Ministry of Economy Deputy Director-General Michal Tzuk.
"There is a skilled and high-quality workforce in Israel in the form of hundreds of male and female academics from the Arab, Druze and Circassian sectors, available for employment," stressed Tzuk. "The program comes to meet these economic and cultural needs, and create a connection between the supply of manpower and the great demand among the employers."
Bennett has stressed that the issue of increasing Arab integration in the workforce, and in particular among female Arab workers, is key on his agenda as head of the Ministry of Economy. Last March, he told the Europe Israel Press Association (EIPA) that the issue of increasing the number of Arab women in the workforce is "his baby."
Likewise last May 22, MK Hanin Zoabi (Balad) raised complaints about the lack of Arab women in the workforce in a Knesset session. Bennett took the podium and told her "on this issue we completely agree. Well done (for raising the topic)."
He called the increased employment of Arab women a "national goal," saying the increased employment of Arab women will help Israeli society, and that Jews and Israeli Arabs are "a couple living in the same country and the same state."