Aug 7, 2013

Solving the integration of Haredim into the workforce with falafel

Just yesterday Minister of Economics and Trade Naftali Bennet announced that the government will be allocating 500,000,000 NIS for the project of integrating Haredim into the workforce.

Bennet pointed out that 30% of the 1st graders in the Israeli school system are Haredim. Without this process of integration, the economy will eventually collapse. This issue is even more important than the issue of integration into the army (something, by the way, that I have said all along).

Recognizing that there are cultural, social and [lack of] training impediments preventing the smooth integration, Bennet's plan will be three-pronged:
1. a type of absorption center for Haredi employment. A young Haredi looking for work or training will go to one of these centers and receive all the direction he or she needs - training, leads for employment, etc.
2. a significant portion of the budget will be directed towards actual training in all facets necessary, be it English, vocational or whatever.
3. creating a demand among employers for hiring Haredi employees - in order to break the "glass ceiling" and get employers over their fear of hiring Haredim. While not stated, I assume an example of this would be tax breaks for employers hiring Haredim or other such benefits.

It sounds like a great project for the government to be spending money on, significant money, and something like this can really make a difference and solve problems.

But then I saw the comments about this made by MK Erel Margalit (Labor). Even though Margalit is part of the Labor party, I have great respect for him as the founder of JVP and in general a hi-tech entrepreneur. While not knowing too much about his belief in economic policy, I don't imagine him being one with socialist-leaning policies in the tune of the standard representative of the Labor party.

MK Margalit commented that the Haredim are not an economic burden, but an economic resource and their integration into the workforce should be a national priority, and it is great that Bennet is focusing on such a project.

Margalit says - let's look at the numbers of such a plan:
* 500,000,000 NIS over 5 years is being allocated for this project.
* that 100,000,000 per year
* for 100,000 Haredim
* meaning, the investment per Haredi citizen is 1000 NIS per year
* that comes to 83 NIS per month

As Erel Margalit puts it, the government investment in this project, when the numbers are drilled down, is 3 portions of falafel, with soda, per person each month.
a plate?

While the direction is great, with this being a national priority, significant budgets should be poured into it. To have a significant affect on the issue and make real change on the Israeli economy and on Israeli society, the State should be pouring 7 billion shekels, along with the business sector, into this project!

Margalit even says this would even bring 2.5 billion shekels back into the State coffers in the next 5 years, and another 3.5 billion every year after that, and that is without calculating into the equation the savings on welfare and the other stresses on the economy we currently deal with on this issue).

3 falafels with soda? While a lot of business can be done over a lunch meeting, I believe Margalit is correct that it is going to take more than a few falafels to deal with this seriously.

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  1. The 100,000 charedim are the entire population, or the adult men? Either way, they are certainly not all going to be diving into this system right away: the ones who are already working obviously won't, a lot of the younger ones will stay in kollel, etc. The numbers are way off.

  2. Elizabeth Warren has shown how American women going into the workplace in 1950s has led to the collapse of the middle-class in the US. Forcing Haredi parents to both get into the workforce is an attempt to lower their fertility. The Haredim are indeed an economic resource, clearly contributing to the economy by their purchasing power.


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