Haredi student studying at JCT
Haredi student studying at JCTCourtesy

The inaugural offering of a course launched by the Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT) and the Yedidut Toronto Foundation’s Career 21 initiative has significantly enhanced the Israeli haredi and National Religious communities’ preparedness for the hi-tech industry, a survey released Tuesday has found.

According to the survey of participants in the “Z-Skills: From Academia to Employment” course, which was launched last year, more than 85 percent of students reported that they gained knowledge and skills that are relevant to the labor market, and 95 percent felt that their self-perception has strengthened and improved following the tools they acquired.

The course aims to facilitate the entrance of JCT’s third- and fourth-year undergraduate computer science students into technology professions by providing the knowledge and skills suited for an ever-changing employment market. Participating students immerse themselves in a curriculum that covers workforce trends, creative thinking, and innovation and entrepreneurship while receiving practical tools in areas like interview preparation and career development.

“The number of students who registered for this course was twice the amount that we could accommodate,” said Yael Gandman, Director of the Career Development Center at JCT. “This is indicative of the increased awareness that students have regarding the importance of developing practical skills that foster successful integration into the labor market. We were pleased to see the substantial improvement in participants’ skills in that area during the past year. The course exceeded all expectations.”

The course leveraged JCT’s track record of strengthening Israel’s labor market through working to increase technology-related educational and employment opportunities for underserved populations, including haredim, women, and Ethiopian immigrants. JCT’s haredi graduates have attained an 89-percent employment rate, far exceeding the roughly 50-percent employment rate for haredi men throughout Israel. Further, 53 percent of all JCT’s computer science students are women, which is 18 percent higher than any other Israeli academic institution.

“Advancements in the integration of haredim into the Israeli hi-tech workforce in recent years prove the importance of this successful partnership,” said Natan Kandler, CEO of Career 21. “The path to Haredi integration comes through imparting professional training and practical skills. Without devoting the resources to mentor these students, and without teaching them the skills that will allow them to compete for high-quality jobs in hi-tech industries, we will not be able to reduce lingering gaps in employment among the haredi community. We are proud of the students at JCT who helped turn our vision into a reality during the course’s first year, and we look forward to a continued fruitful collaboration with the College.”