Article Library / 2016

2016 Annual Assessment

Various initiatives sprang from government Aliyah resolutions. Some have been executed successfully, some have been implemented with only partial success, and others have not been implemented at all. On the basis of the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption directions and with ministry funding, the relevant agencies have worked to improve the array of pre-Aliyah processes: they have increased exposure to Israel, especially via the Taglit-Birthright Israel and MASA programs. French Taglit participant numbers rose from103 in 2013 to 2,100 in 2015, thanks to efforts by the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs; BBB pilot trips for 12th graders increased their participant numbers from 1,200 to 1,500. MASA enrollment increased from 1,000 in 2013 to 1,400 young people in 2015 (80 percent of whom changed their status from tourist to oleh at the end of the program). These activities have been highly successful, and the bottleneck that emerged due to the threefold increase in Aliyah candidates has been handled satisfactorily.

The preparatory stage for Aliyah to Israel, implemented in the country of origin – a stage that was all but irrelevant for waves of immigration from distressed countries – requires special attention when the immigration is from affluent countries such as those of Western Europe and North America. Here, as well, the Israeli government is making significant investments: 25 new Hebrew ulpan classrooms have already been opened, with another 75 expected to open in the future; there is a concerted effort to make reliable information on occupational licensing available in French (the option has been created of submitting documents to the occupational licensing committee before actually relocating to Israel); and several license exam preparation courses have been launched in France. Additionally, two employment counselors and an IDF representative who provides information to those subject to conscription have been posted in France.

Regarding the issue of degree recognition, several major successes have been achieved: French degrees in practical engineering and some degrees in para-medical fields have been granted automatic recognition. On March 26, 2016 a law was passed by the Knesset exempting dentistry degree holders from Western countries from the Israeli licensing exam.

In the sphere of absorption at the municipal level, the number of “proyektorim” (case managers who help families with initial absorption) has been increased from 7 in 2013 to 17 in 2016. We have no detailed information regarding French olim in particular, but for the group of olim from Ukraine, France, or Belgium – initial efforts have been made that have proven effective in terms of access to employment. The most prominent of these efforts were: two licensing courses in which 30 people participated; a job fair in which 700 families took part; employment counseling for over 1,000 people; the creation of 50 business models and business plans for immigrants who own businesses in their countries of origin; 131 feasibility studies for potential immigrant businesses; over 50 entrepreneurship conferences and workshops in Israel and abroad; the distribution of 700 vocational training vouchers, and 300 vouchers for Hebrew language study. It is important to note that in 2014, when French olim accounted for 24 percent of all immigrants, 1,071 employment vouchers were distributed to the entire immigrant population, but – mainly due to bureaucratic reasons – only 98 to French olim, that is, only 9.1 percent of the vouchers were allocated to French olim.

The Education Ministry allocated NIS 20 million (funded by the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption) underwrote six weekly hours of educational guidance for immigrant pupils during their first year in Israel; additionally, French-speaking mediators were assigned to improve communication between teachers and non-Hebrew-speaking parents. In Jerusalem and Ashdod, learning centers were established for immigrant pupils. Unsurprisingly, children of families living outside major immigrant concentration centers receive fewer services.

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