Thursday, June 20, 2013

Druze excellence

Meeting Yifat was a rare treat.

She is the founder and Director of “IT-Works,” which partners with JDC to help Arabs in Israel find quality hi-tech jobs, especially in the Druze sector. The program is called "Excel HT" (as in: "excel in hi-tech")

Many Druze Israelis who get a university-level education don’t succeed in getting great jobs. 
There are several reasons for this:

(1)   They don’t have the connections to Israeli business networks (networking, etc) and they don’t have a real community leadership that can connect them to these business networks.

(2)   There aren’t enough role-models for them: there are lots of Arab-Israeli teachers, so people assume that this is what you’ll become.

(3)   There's still discrimination (I sat with Amran, who’s in charge of the Leadership Track of this program. She told me a story that I’d heard in various forms in other circumstances – she and a Jewish friend sent their resumes out to various hi-tech firms. Her friend got callbacks. She didn’t).

(4)   So … therefore there’s a vicious cycle. They're not trying, so there’s very little chance of success.

The Excel HT program is a JDC partnership with the Prime Minister’s Office and other generous supporters. We’re helping 150 young Druze and Circassians each year find employment with training. Their first year had 83% placement! 
The Leadership track – an amazing partnership with the Ruderman Foundation, takes ten students each year as role-models, with 100% placement, in leading hi-tech companies.

Five years ago there were only two Druze from the town of Julis in hi-tech careers. Now there are 12.
These new recruits are role models. Excel HT trains them, guides them, supports them. They are ambassadors for change in their own communities.

Israeli-Arabs are 20% of the population but only give us 0.5% of the hi-tech sector. And at a conservative count there must be at least 8,000 open hi-tech positions waiting to be filled.

It’s a missed opportunity for everyone. 

Especially because there are almost no Arab women in hi-tech. Nearly every Arab woman who is working in hi-tech has been placed there by Excel HT ...

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