Longitudinal study of graduates of YEDID’s employment readiness program in Kiryat Gat shows that 71% are still employed.
Currently 29% of all Israelis citizens live below the poverty line. The working poor and unemployed face many barriers to economic advancement, and drastic cuts in social services, reduced vocational training, and unethical employment practices have worsened their situation. These at-risk Israelis struggle day-to-day for basic survival. Women, in particular, are disproportionately represented among the poor and their tribulations.
Anat (not her real name) is one such woman. A 31-year-old immigrant from the Caucus region, Anat arrived in Israel in 1997. She subsequently got married and had two children. During the last few years, she couldn't find a job that would adequately support herself and her children: most of her income has come from work as a house cleaner. The future was bleak.
A few months ago, she joined a "Let's Get to Work!" course in employment empowerment offered by YEDID country-wide. As a resident of Kiryat Gat, Anat joined twenty other local women who also lacked self-confidence stemming from their employment and personal woes.
Sadly, her marriage fell apart during the time of the course, and Anat decided to get divorced. Here, too, YEDID volunteers were there to support her during this difficult time, assisting Anat in focusing on the wider picture in an attempt to help her escape from the cycle of poverty and distress.
In discussions with Miri, the course coordinator, Anat concluded that she could envision a future of working in office management: a promising vocation, but one that nonetheless demanded specific training and education. Anat thus understood that she would have to forego her income as a house cleaner since she would have to invest valuable time in studying.
It was an agonizing decision, but Anat understood that she had no choice and she would have to take the plunge into a studying routine, something with which she had little experience and an endeavor burdened by her family status as a divorced mother with two small children.
To help her gain assurance that this was the right path for her to take, Anat volunteered at the YEDID office for three months, trying her hand at office work (answering phone calls, filing, typing, etc.) When she found that the work was satisfying, she registered for a course in Office Management in Beer Sheva.
Today Anat is happy, empowered, forging a new career and, ultimately, on the road to personal actualization. She has become independent and has assumed responsibility for her family's livelihood. These changes affect all other areas of her life, and she credits the "Let's Get to Work!" project with the start of her new life.
During the years 2006-2008, YEDID held many employment empowerment courses for women in Kiryat Gat. 181 women from various sectors and age-groups took part in the courses which were financed by the Rosenzweig-Coopersmith Foundation, while similar projects in the city were financed the Baron de Hirsch Fund. During these years, 73% of the women found employment for a period of at least one year. Out of the 2008 participants, 67% of the 76 women found employment, while during 2009, 70% of the 44 women graduates were employed and are currently employed.
According to a recent YEDID study of 181 course participants, 113 were employed either during or at their course conclusion and 129 are currently employed; 71% of all women that completed the course.
"This is a significant achievement”, notes YEDID Director Sari Revkin, “especially where concerning a group of women in 2009: most of them immigrants from the Caucuses region who lacked any employment experience. We have shown that close, long-term accompaniment along with the development of a social network and increased self-confidence can bring fantastic results. With additional funding, I am sure that many more unemployed women will be able to join the work force."