Friday, September 21, 2012

Arab-Israeli One Stop Employment Center

JDC's Cityworks program works to help adults in the Arab sector, attain self-sufficiency and restore their economic independence by enabling cities to provide economic opportunities for their constituents. The model's success stems from its ability to place the responsibility for employment assistance firmly in the hands of local authorities by empowering them to fulfill this charge.
Location: Matnas Segev Shalom  “Rian Center

We start our visit at the Of Oz Chicken Factory. 180 of the 700 workers in the factory came from Rian, The Center works in several locations, Segev, Chora, more to come. There was a culture of not-working here so it wasn’t easy to get started. We invested heavily in local leadership to persuade people to work. You can’t open a factory here if people won’t work and even now there's massive turnover. People leave after a day or two and they don’t return. Why bother. We’re trying to enhance and deepen a sense of commitment to work. That every community will be talking about work. Now we’re seeing people who final understand the value of work.

We opened a women’s chef’s course because men and women cooked separately at weddings and events. They would bring cooks from the territories, so it was important to develop a local initiative.

The Of Oz factory: they have 1300 workers on the list but only 700 actually work there. Some only came for a day, or didn’t even turn up. But those that have been coming in to work regularly feel like they belong. There are 30 year olds (and older) who have never worked, but they love to come in, it opens up a new world for them. Increasing work commitment, increasing sense of protecting and preserving the work equipment.

The connection between the factory (in planning) and the Center began some ten years ago, but the factory only opened last year. They ran recruitment days in the local Matnas and ran interviews.
Note the photo of the main floor (“piruk”) where you have men and women separate, and a separate line of women wearing head-coverings. It was important for everyone to preserve ways to integrate, allow women to find a career path.

Segev Shalom is a Beduin town, 7000 population, of which 60% are aged under 18. Meaning of the word Rian is fertile ground in Arabic. The Center is in the basement of the local Matnas.

BADR is the Rian Center Director. The team chose the name because they felt it was important to emphasize the local roots. There is a clear lack of trust in GOI.

MUHAMAD is the overall Director for the region: when they opened the factory people stopped coming to the Center because they thought it was the same thing. So we had to go out and explain to people. There are huge challenges and also successes. Usually there’s no investment in people here; now we have a chance. People need to go through a process, and that’s not easy. Sometimes five meetings isn’t enough. People have excuses, problems, but we don’t despair. We feel a sense of mission. Our aim is empowerment, changing the culture of work. It’s critical because what was created here left people without the tools to work. Everything changed here. Once, everyone worked. But the urbanization process changed us and we didn’t have the tools to work. People received handouts and they got used to it, and now you have a second generation (and perhaps even third) of unemployed. People developed ‘walls’ – I can’t do it, they won’t accept me. But the work market is open to accepting them.

BADR Segev Shalom has 7500 residents and another 5000 in the outlying areas who receive health and education services. The town was recognized in 1999. 60% are under the age of 18.
3400 are working-age.
1400 are working according to a 2008 survey, now it’s probably closer to 2000. 30% of working-age women actually work.

The program has an advisory committee from the community, they convene, discuss, give and receive updates. There’s a monthly updates page that goes out to 250 managers in the area.
The Center has “easy” and “difficult” participants, defined by the need to invest energy in them, level of Hebrew language, and more. The critical emphasis is on the amount of professional training needed.

RAVICHA (in the purple head-covering) participated in the metaplot course. The Rian Center published a note in the town about courses , I went, it was 8 months long, because I didn’t need to go to Beersheva (like with the other course, two years ago, which I couldn’t do). But the Segev course is ours, it’s real, it’s close. I have five children in my mishpachton, the families pay a symbolic sum to take part.
Ravicha had never worked before. The metaplot course opened a new world for her, and now for other women, because if you can offer arrangements for children then the mothers can find a job. Ravicha smiles. I enjoy my job. I want to send my kids to study in university. My husband wasn’t opposed to my working because I'm bringing home money.

MIRIAM (in the blue-white covering) is the occupational community social worker. You can take people out of the cycle of poverty now because we have a budget and willingness to overcome the negatives in our society. It was obvious that we’re not just talking about numbers but rather about social change. There was a circle of unemployment and helplessness. It’s not an easy process, you need a lot of patience. It’s not just the husbands, it’s also the language, the culture.
There are 40 women from Segev who work in agricultural greenhouses – but even there you need basic Hebrew, so we needed to train them.

Rian has run courses on such subjects as air-conditioning installation, electrician, engineering, car electrics, welding. They needed to work with very different groups: men, women, youth. They set up an Imams Forum, and the Imams were very supportive, they could hand out flyers in the mosques). They worked in the schools on explanation, to try to change how youth think about employment in a three-stage process (first stage already happened):
explaining what is the employment scene, supply and demand of jobs, equipping the youth with basic concepts, how to write a resume.
Meeting with experts
Meeting at the Center

The professionals run home visits, they get neighbors together, explanation materials. They don’t have enough professionals. There are two supplemental classes for people to finish 10th and 12th grades. There are problems with low self-image. In practically every kind of job you have to go through a placement exam with a personnel firm, therefore the placement exam is critical; it’s a huge obstacle so we’re working to promote culturally-sensitive testing.
They have 820 people listed in their database, of whom 417 are working. Half of them are women, 70 are in courses.

In the Sherut Taasuka 7% find employment
With the personnel agencies, 20% find employment
With the Riad Center, 50% find employment. This is a huge achievement.

As you walk out of the Matnas you can see the town. Every house still has a tent next to it; that’s where people sit in the evenings. Not everyone has accepted the concept of urban life.

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