State-owned Companies Failing to Employ Israelis of Ethiopian Descent

Vast majority of those employed by such firms don’t have college degrees and work in junior, lower-paying positions.

Tomer Appelbaum

Government-owned companies employ almost no Israelis of Ethiopian descent, states a new report from the Government Companies Authority. The law requires government companies employing over 50 people to employ Ethiopians at the same rate as their percentage in the general population: 1.6%. But the report says very few government companies meet this requirement. In addition, the few that do employ almost no one of Ethiopian origin with college degrees.

Still, the figures for 2013 were much improved from previous years. Since 2011, there has been a clear trend to hire more Ethiopians. In 2013, the percentage of those of Ethiopian descent in government companies was 1.1%, compared to 1% in 2012 and 0.7% in 2011.

In 2013, the percentage of women of Ethiopian descent employed in such companies remained stable, while the percentage with college degrees rose. But still only 3.4% of Ethiopian women employed in these companies had degrees, and for men the figure was 10.6%.

Ninety percent of men of Ethiopian descent employed in government companies, and 96% of women, do not have college degrees, which most likely means they are in junior and lower-paying positions.

“These are figures we see time after time,” said MK Pnina Tamano-Shata (Yesh Atid). “They hire Ethiopians as unskilled workers, and not as managers,” she added, noting that even though she has asked the Civil Service Commission many times for information on the positions held by Ethiopians, she has not received a response.

The figures that appear in last week's report were presented to the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, as well as the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission in the Economy Ministry.

For example, Israel Aerospace Industries employs the highest number of workers of Ethiopian descent: 163. But out of this number, only 13 have college degrees – 11 men and two women. The Israel Electric Corporation employs 111 Ethiopians, only 14 of whom have degrees.

The few companies that do exceed the required employment quota have taken positive steps to recruit such employees while cooperating with nonprofits that deal with finding work for Ethiopians.

The head of the GCA, Ori Yogev, said he would instruct the boards of all government companies that have yet to set formal hiring policies on the matter to do so, including setting specific goals, and to inform the GCA of their actions.

The Knesset immigration committee will hold an urgent meeting on the report Tuesday.