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Employment continues to be main struggle for immigrants, poll finds

Ukraine Israel

250 Olim from Ukraine are welcomed upon arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport on November 2, 2016. (photo credit:IFCJ)

Finding suitable employment in Israel continues to be a major struggle for olim (new immigrants), according to a poll released Thursday by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, an organization which assists olim from various countries around the world, particularly from France and Ukraine.

Immigrants from France and the Former Soviet Union – both of which are major sources of aliya – were the subjects of the poll. The survey was conducted by research institute Geocartography, using a sample of 277 people above the age of 18, all of whom made aliya with the help of IFCJ in the past two years. The purpose of the survey was to examine the status of new olim and their satisfaction with the absorption process.

Across both groups of olim, few of them have found what they deem suitable employment in their new country.

In answer to the question “To what degree do you feel you have found suitable employment?” 47.3% of the respondents answered “not at all,” while 7.6% said “to a small degree” and 23.5% said “to a moderate degree.” Only 13.4% said they had, to a large extent, found fitting work.

The issue of employment is one that has been raised repeatedly with regard to olim, and has been flagged as a source of particular frustration for French immigrants, where certifications in some fields are not recognized in Israel. The issue has been addressed by the authorities and while some progress has been made for certain professions, the issue is not yet resolved for others.

Regarding their economic status, 68% of French-speaking olim surveyed reported their current situation as “average,” 11% as “bad” or “very bad” and 21% as “good” or “very good.” Meanwhile, 38% of Russian-speaking olim surveyed described their status as “pretty good” or “very good,” 49.8% as “average” and 11.9% as “bad.”

Overall, most olim appear to be satisfied with their lives in Israel. A large majority (89.9%) would not change their decision to make aliya, given the chance to go back in time. Moreover, with no difference with respect to the country of origin, over 80% of the olim characterize their absorption experience as “good.”

Language difficulties was listed as the most common problem for those who answered that they had a poor absorption experience (17.3%). Next was difficulty in receiving assistance from the healthcare system as well as housing problems, followed by economic difficulties and trouble finding work.

“In a globalized world where families can choose between making aliya to Israel or immigrating to other countries, Israel has to stand out among the alternatives to ensure that new olim will achieve successful lives for themselves and their families,” said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, The founder and president of IFCJ, which offers specialized services tailored to immigrants’ countries of origin, such as financial aid to Ukrainian olim escaping civil conflict and housing assistance to French Jews who’ve identified that need.

“Israel must do everything in its power to ensure that olim attain proper employment and find a tolerant, supportive and accessible environment,” Eckstein added. “For this reason, The Fellowship is working hard to contribute to this important goal and we are happy to see Israel’s absorption minister, Sofa Landver, doing the same. We expect Israel’s other ministers will join us in supporting olim in all aspects of life.”

The survey was conducted during the second week of December 2016, via phone interviews, using a computerized survey system. The margin of error is +-5.8%.

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