Israel to Hire ultra-Orthodox for 7 Percent of All Civil Service Jobs Over Next Three Years

With a growing number academic degree-equipped Haredim entering the workforce, the government seeks to create more employment opportunities

Ultra-Orthodox entrepreneurs Israel Rosenberg and David Weinberg working at Clicktale Ltd. offices in Ramat Gan on Sunday, July 10, 2016.

The government will hire ultra-Orthodox Jews for at least 7% of all civil service jobs that come open in the next three years as it seeks to create more employment opportunities for the growing number of Haredim with academic degrees who are entering the workforce.

Under a plan approved by the cabinet Sunday about 130 positions will be reserved for Haredim — 110, or 85% of them, for college graduates. Until now Haredim were only allocated specialized jobs connected to their religious education.

Haredim in the prime working ages of 20 to 64 account for about 9% of the population in that age cohort, but only 7% of the labor force because of their low workforce participation rate. Only around 11,000 Haredim, 3.5% of total enrollment, are studying in degree programs.

Gilad Malach, an expert on ultra-Orthodox employment at the Israel Democracy Institute who helped devise the plan, said it aimed to strengthen the connection between the Haredi community and the state as well as to help ensure employment for the increasing number of Haredim who are earning degrees.

“We’re talking about a decision that bring and gradual and gentle change, not a revolution because over the coming years the percentage of Haredim in the civil service will still remain very small relative to the percentage of working Haredim,” Malach said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the issue would be revisited in three years, in line with the increase in the number of university graduates and trends in the employment market.