Demobilized soldiers will be able to study Asian cooking this year at the government's expense, as part of an effort to reduce the number of foreign workers employed as cooks in Asian restaurants by training Israeli professionals to replace them.

The cooking courses are estimated to cost about NIS 4.5 million a year, about NIS 1 million of which will come from the Defense Ministry budget.

The government is trying to match recently discharged soldiers with industries facing a shortage of Israeli workers, Defense Ministry officials said.

"There is a lack of Israeli workers in this area, and that is why we are building a program that allows them to learn, get a job, and has lots of 'treats' for those taking the course," a ministry official said.

Six courses are scheduled for this year in the north, center and south, with a minimum of 25 students in each course.

Some recently demobilized soldiers taking the course may receive aid for housing and living expenses for the first few months. Though the NIS 30,000 tuition is fully subsidized, students will have to pay NIS 1,800 each for clothing and equipment.

Graduates of the course will receive a large grant if they work in the industry on a regular basis over the course of the first year.

The Defense Ministry said the grant, expected to come to a total of tens of thousands of shekels, will be paid for by the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry. The discharged soldiers will also be eligible to receive the grant given to all demobilized soldiers who work in certain jobs classified as "priority work."

The program is jointly sponsored by the Defense Ministry, the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry and the Gross Foundation, which provides scholarships for discharged soldiers.

The ministry's unit for aiding discharged soldiers is publicizing the cooking course, which includes workshops and classroom studies. Graduates are to be placed in jobs all over the country after finishing the course.

Read this article in Hebrew.