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May 27, 2014 10:48 pm

Economy Minister Bennett Inaugurates Two Employment Guidance Centers for Bedouin in Israel’s Negev

avatar by Aryeh Savir / Tazpit News Agency

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Minister Naftali Bennett at a Bedouin employment center. Photo: Israeli government.

Israel’s Economy Minister Naftali Bennett on Tuesday inaugurated  two Riyan Employment Guidance Centers for the Bedouin population in Lakiya and Rahat in southern Israel.

The centers have been in operation since 2013 in accordance with government resolution 3708, a program to promote economic growth and development of the Bedouin population, and are two of nine such centers that will serve the Bedouin community in the Negev. The center in Rahat is the largest of 21 centers spread throughout the country, and serves the local population of about 60,000, which rates poorly on the socio-economic scale.

The Riyan Employment Guidance Centers have been categorized as a ‘One Stop Shop’ for the Bedouin unemployed, helping them to integrate into the workforce in suitable employment. The centers provide employment guidance and counseling, education guidance and preparatory courses for higher education, preparation for the workplace, proper placement and long-term employment support. Work assignments are secured through relations with employers and, on occasion, with assistance in transporting employees from Bedouin towns to their places of employment.

To date, the Economy Ministry has established six Riyan centers out of nine in the south that are planned to open before the conclusion of 2014, in cooperation with the Prime Minister’s Office and the Joint Distribution Committee at a cost of about NIS 100 million over a five year period. In the last two years the employment centers have processed 3,228 requests from Bedouin applicants and have placed 1,858 in employment, a 57% success rate. Almost half of the newly employed are Bedouin women.

The Israeli Government has been working since 2003 to implement a systemic and integrated plan to improve the lives of the Bedouin in the Negev, including the resolution of land ownership issues and related urban planning, employment and education, and the effect of these matters on living conditions in their communities.

On Tuesday Minister Bennett said that Bedouin society is facing many challenges, but that members of the community are increasingly choosing to leave their homes and acquire jobs. “This is a great message for them and the Israeli economy. I met today tens of women in their forties who, for the first time, went to work. They were much moved; so was I,” said Bennett.

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