Charisma Project for Social Change. The Charisma project, established by the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews (IAEJ), promotes the unification of diverse groups, activists and volunteers in the Ethiopian community. The project operates to encourage the involvement of activists to push for the integration of the Ethiopian community into the broader Israeli society. The initiative includes the merging of activist groups at the community level, and outlines effective leadership strategies and conduct. This includes training in the absorption process, from the first stage of defining goals and targets through to execution, and subsequent evaluation. Participation in the groups is voluntary, and members have the opportunity to set their own agenda. The Charisma project is unique because it guides and supports activists according to their priorities and issues vis a vis local authorities. An advantage of the project is the high level synchronization between activities at the national level by the IAEJ with those at the grassroots level by activists and activist bodies. The essence of the project is in how the contribution of local activists impacts on the personal lives of so many Ethiopian families and extends into the broader Israeli community. In this way the Ethiopian community can take charge of its future. The activists who take part in the project are committed to transforming the dream of Ethiopian Jews into reality – to be full partners in Israeli society. Project Goals: 1. To strengthen and empower local Ethiopian activists by promoting social awareness and volunteering in the community.2. To increase the involvement in, and expand activities of local Ethiopian activists to tackle collective challenges at the grassroots, municipal level. 3. To encourage civic responsibility among the older generation. 4. To create a resilient and dedicated local leadership as an address for the Ethiopian community. 5. To cultivate and expand groups with a national social awareness motivated to make a significant difference. Target population: 1. Local activists from the Ethiopian community with a high level of social awareness. 2. Members of the Ethiopian community between the ages of 25-40. 3. University and college graduates with insight and potential skills to tackle their community’s challenges. Training Issues (training varies between groups): 1. Local authority; city planning, the municipality policies, legal issues, and the interface between municipalities, local authorities and state authorities. 2. The range of government services available in the areas of education, housing, employment immigration and absorption. 3. Israeli democracy: becoming knowledgeable about the Knesset, Supreme Court, Yad Vashem and other government bodies. 4. The effectiveness of the media as a tool for change5. Leadership empowerment - developing an effective strategy to promote social change within the Ethiopian community, to more fully integrate into Israeli society.6. Civil rights and responsibilities. Taasuka Holemet – Helping Ethiopian Israeli College Graduates Find Suitable Employment. Many Ethiopian-Israeli college and university graduates experience difficulties finding employment that is commensurate with their levels of education. Despite their academic achievements, many of the approximately 4,000 Ethiopian-Israeli college graduates are experiencing difficulties finding employment in their fields. Among other factors, the job hunting efforts of many Ethiopian-Israeli college graduates are hampered by their lack of familiarity with norms and procedures in the Israeli workplace. Frequently they lack the necessary guidance when writing resumes or preparing for job interviews. Key employment issues, such as salary levels, pension benefits, insurance and taxation are often unfamiliar to persons who grew up in homes without a principle breadwinner. Ethiopian-Israeli college graduates can and should be a source of social mobility. They are also an example to younger members of the community of the importance educational achievement and the inherent worth of remaining in school and persisting diligently with their studies. The unique challenges facing Ethiopian Israeli graduates trying to find meaningful employment have become even more acute, since the current economic crisis has greatly curtailed job opportunities (read the letter at the end of the description of this project).
IAEJ's Experience with Employment Initiatives for Ethiopian Israeli Graduates Several years ago when IAEJ first began drawing attention to underemployment among Ethiopian-Israeli college graduates, many denied that the problem existed. As a result of IAEJ`s activity, over the past three years, the number of government agencies and NGO's seeking to address this issue has grown tremendously and their approach has changed from denial to priority. More importantly, growing numbers of employers, in both the public and private sectors are reaching out to recruit Ethiopian-Israeli college grads and have turned to IAEJ for help. In 2007-2008 IAEJ conducted an employment advocacy initiative for Ethiopian-Israeli college graduates. Through this initiative nearly 200 Ethiopian-Israeli students and graduates participated in job-hunting skills workshops and 60 Ethiopian-Israeli graduates received additional English training. Today 47% of the program participants are now working in positions commensurate with their levels of education, while others are engaged in recruitment processes or still continuing their job search. In addition, a database was compiled of approximately 1,000 Ethiopian-Israeli students and graduates (approximately 20% of all Ethiopian-Israeli students and grads), enabling IAEJ to better assess employment needs in the community and email relevant employment information directly to job seekers. In 2007-2008 over 200 Ethiopian-Israeli graduates received information about 400 available positions through this database. A study that we carried out by the end of 2008 has shown that job hunting needs of Ethiopian Israeli college graduates vary greatly and require diverse solutions. Some graduates need to sharpen their interviewing skills, while others are weak in group evaluation sessions or need to strengthen their English language facility. Employment testing varies between positions. Candidates for jobs in the financial services sector must prepare for different exams than high-tech employees. Recognizing the vast differences between individual graduates, the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews proposed adopting a different approach and offer 90-100 Ethiopian Israeli college grads 'custom tailored' employment plans each year.
Uniqueness of this Project Since IAEJ began raising awareness to the issue of underemployment among Ethiopian Israeli college grads, a number of programs have been launched to help Ethiopian Israeli graduates integrate into the workforce. These programs are doing important work, but are addressing the needs of only specific professional sectors, such as law, computers or graduates with outstanding academic records.
At present no program is addressing the employment challenges facing Ethiopian Israeli graduates beyond these professional sectors, even though they constitute the vast majority of the Ethiopian Israeli graduate population or taking into account the diversity of their job-hunting needs. The project focuses on three population sectors among Ethiopian Israeli college grads:
Because of current financial challenges, IAEJ decided to focus on the job placement aspect for 2009. Each participant is assigned to a project staffer, who accompanies him or her throughout the period job placement process. The project staff works together with the participant to create a personalized employment plan, which will take into account the job seeker's personal needs and ambitions. An employment plan includes referrals to courses or other training that would addresses the candidate’s individual needs (i.e. a test preparation workshop). This includes a time table for implementation, including a schedule of meetings between the staff person and job seeker. The staff offers guidance and recommendations for a plan of action and then follows up with each participant.
- Unemployed Ethiopian Israeli graduates actively seeking jobs commensurate with their levels of education.
- Ethiopian Israeli graduates who are working in jobs not commensurate with their levels of education.
- Participants in other programs, who need additional training, especially on how to prepare for employment exams and group evaluation sessions
Acquiring Job Hunting Skills Young Israeli graduates often seek out professional assistance in the form of workshops, courses or individual coaching from human resources firms to strengthen their job hunting skills, much in the way American students take courses to prepare for exams such as the LSAT, GRE, GMAT, etc. In most cases, they seek out this extra assistance in order to prepare for employment testing and group evaluation sessions that specific employers use to evaluate job candidates. The training services provided by these human resources firms are modular. They also offer separate modules on interviewing skills and other relevant subjects. Many Ethiopian Israeli graduates are unaware of these training options or unable to afford them and as a result many fail at these exams. Individual graduates are referred to training courses, according their specific needs. Training modules will be in the form of courses, workshops, simulations, coaching and individual tutorials offered by select human resources firms to help persons become stronger job candidates.
Cultivating Relations with Major Employers Project staff works with 40 major private sector and 20 public sector employers to encourage the recruitment of qualified Ethiopian Israeli graduates. These efforts place an emphasis on companies that have expressed interest to IAEJ in actively recruiting Ethiopian Israeli workers as part of their own corporate responsibility policies and networking with our partners in the Israel Manufacturers Association, with whom IAEJ has established strong working relations to help place Ethiopian Israelis in industry. Project staff maintains regular monthly liaison with employers in order to receive timely information regarding available positions and to monitor the levels of job retention of newly placed program participants. IAEJ will expand the employment portal on its Hebrew language website as a proven successful online resource for job seekers. Since launching our renewed Hebrew site in June 2007, the site has made hundreds of available positions accessible to Ethiopian Israeli college grads.
Goals and Objectives 2009 Project Goals
Affirmative Action – Expanding a Successful Model IAEJ will continue to advocate for full implementation of Israel's Equal Opportunity Law (affirmative action in the civil service) and for its expansion to municipal government and State owned companies. The civil service is an important source of meaningful employment for graduates with degrees in the social sciences and humanities. In 2005 IAEJ successfully advocated for the Law's amendment to include Ethiopian Israelis. According to the latest government statistics for February 2009, today over 678 Ethiopians are employed, an increase from the previous 504. A third hold leading positions and earn salaries that match their qualifications. Since 2006 the number of Ethiopian Israeli academics employed in civil service has grown from 31 to 85. In 2008, twenty high level positions in key government offices were filled by Ethiopian academics.
- Increasing employment among Ethiopian-Israeli college graduates in positions commensurate with their levels of education.
- Bestowing Ethiopian-Israeli graduates with the tools to find meaningful employment.
- Raising the awareness of employers regarding the importance of integrating qualified Ethiopian Israeli graduates in their workforces.
Partners & Results IAEJ has a successful working relationship with the Israel Manufacturers Association (IMA) to provide job training for unskilled Ethiopian Israeli laborers and to help place them in jobs in Industry. In this regard, IAEJ works with IMA with regards to finding meaningful employment for a broader section of Ethiopian Israeli job seekers. IAEJ has also built a network of Israeli business and companies who are enthusiastic about the project, and have agreed to recruit Ethiopian Israeli college graduates. IAEJ also works with directly with municipal authorities, local absorption centers (mokdei klita), Young Adult Centers and community centers serving the Ethiopian Israeli community to advertise and market this project among Ethiopian Israeli graduates. IAEJ hopes to achieve a high level of cooperation with other initiatives addressing the employment needs of Ethiopian Israeli graduates, such as Olim Beyachad in implementing this project. There has been increased employment in the government and private sectors, classes have been opened for Ethiopians by the Ministry of Absorption and the Manufacturer’s Association in partnership with the Ministry of Industry and Trade; a new Ethiopian organization was created to focus on employment for academics; government subsidies and courses have been initiated; and Jewish foundations & Federations are investing in the Ethiopian community. Hard advocacy work has yielded real results: policy change, impact on government committees, agendas, decisions and subsequent programs and services to both the Ethiopian and general population. Everyone benefits
Transcribed below is the rough translation of a letter from an Ethiopian Israeli college graduate addressed to IAEJ's Taasuka Holemet project officer, Yohannes Talala, who engages in student liaisons. After it’s publication on IAEJ’s Hebrew website, a deluge of letters followed in response including many actual job offers where she secured one specific position. 01/02/2009
Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews.
Shalom, My name is Batsheva Melko. I am 26 years old, and I have completed a degree in Communications- Advertising and Marketing. I finished my studies two years ago, and I still have not succeeded in finding work in the area of advertising or marketing. It seems to be that without connections, references or practical experience in this area, there is nobody in the job market who will give me a "first chance". I turn to you because of your knowledge and experience in the subject of employment amongst college graduates in the [Ethiopian] community, and it is reasonable to assume that you are one of the key authorities in this area. I request your help in all sense of the word "request". I feel that life is unfair. I face a lot of difficulties in finding work, which are destroying my last hopes. It is so frustrating to watch all my other peers going forward and building their careers in different fields while I continue to work just to support myself rather than to develop a career on the basis of my personal qualifications. When I was younger and more innocent, in retrospect, I always thought that when I would grow up and search for employment, I would find work because of my character, skills and areas of interests, and that I would not find myself in employment directly related to my community, not because of hatred, G-d forbid, or because of any other "anti", but simply because I believe that I am an intelligent and ambitious person and there nothing that prevents me or singles me out from any other person with similar intellectual and educational background, from being able to do my job well. It annoys me that every job interview I have managed to have until now has been related to the Ethiopian community. I have attached my resume to this letter, and I sincerely hope that you will be able to advise me.
Thank you for your time.
Have a good day,
Batsheva (Name has been changed to protect the writer's privacy) A job in High-Tech? Now?
Just recently, 34 year old Tomer, married and father of two, succeeded in braking two barriers. One is stereotyping of the Ethiopian community, and the second, a deepening recession, which according to some has just started. Today Tomer works in a high-tech company in Herzliya-Pituach. His employment success is a result of his personal tenacity combined with his participation in the “Adequate Employment” initiative, created by “The Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews (IAEJ). This venture provides key support to university graduates to help find them positions commensurate with their level of education, training and qualifications. Up until the 6 th grade, Tomer studied in Addis Ababa. He made aliya to Israel in 1996 after living and studying in Canada during his high school years. Today he is a software QA (Quality Assurance) in a hardware and software company, providing specialized security solutions. Tomer (who asked to remain unidentified) acquired these select skills in a six month course sponsored by a high-tech company called Infinity IT, that promotes equal opportunity in employment for Ethiopian Israelis. Tomer’s background is in electrical engineering where he studied at Ort collage in Natanya. During the current recession, Tomer left his work at Infinity IT, after the company went bankrupt. “A month later I found the job”, he explains, “These are tough times to find a job, so for me, it was relatively quick and straightforward. It happened thanks to the connection I made with Johannes from the IAEJ “Adequate Employment” framework. A friend told me about the program and I contacted the organization. I emailed Johannes my CV and he forwarded it to the company. I went through interviews and tests, and got the break I was hoping for. It is great to work with a prominent and influential company. I’m there since January, over two months, and I have a feeling of real satisfaction.” “When my company closed, I didn’t sit around and wait. I worked in all kinds of places while searching for the right job,” he explains, “I sent my CV to a wide range of companies in the communications industry. I was not invited to many interviews, and wasn’t successful landing a job. In one of the positions, in technical support, the demand was to sign a one-year contract at minimum wage, but I refused. To commit for a year with a minimum salary with two kids and a mortgage is impossible. I was not invited to other interviews. Only after securing this job, the calls came”. “We have many university graduates in the Ethiopian community, and an organization like IAEJ, which helps find employment, is essential. In our family we have some university graduates working in poorly paid security work and sporadic jobs, and their younger siblings say ‘why would I bother to study? You work like every unskilled person, why should I make the effort?’ They search for personal role models and this is what we should provide them. We all need to see the benefits that should be forthcoming from an advanced degree. I can tell the other graduates, not to give up, work in other jobs and keep searching!” “Another piece of important advice is to strengthen their spoken English. You can’t succeed without it in my profession. Many companies work internationally, and all the written documents are in English,” he explains and summarizes: “There is no such thing as ‘I can’t learn English’, if someone really wants something, he can achieve it. Don’t say ‘I can’t!’ Everything is possible. Like Obama said, ‘Yes we can!’”
IAEJ's Education Initiative promote the educational
and social advancement of Ethiopian students in
the Israeli educational system.
Education represent the
most important issue IAEJ deals with and many
challenges remain. Compared to the overall Israeli
population, academic performance of Ethiopian
youth is very poor. Recent Ministry of Education
statistics indicated a failure to integrate and
absorb Ethiopian students in the educational system:
IAEJ's Education Initiative
priority issues include:
- Only 1/3 of Ethiopian
students in elementary and middle school receive
grades at or above the national average.
- Approximately 40% of Ethiopian
students grades 1-9 cannot read or write at
their grade level.
- 6.2% of Ethiopian
students aged 14-17 dropout, as opposed to 3.5%
in the general population.
- More than 3% of Ethiopian
students are in special education.
- 32% of Ethiopian students
(as opposed to 50% in the general population)
are eligible for matriculation exams for higher
education each year.
- Over the past four years
there was no substantial increase in the numbers
of Ethiopian students in higher education -
Approximately 1,000 on average yearly and approximately
1,000 on average in preparatory courses.
- There is a significantly
higher rate of crime and at-risk behavior among
- Revising the criteria for
tracking Ethiopian students in Special Education.
- Advancing the social integration
and participation of Ethiopian students in existing
educational enrichment programs.
- Improving the academic
performance of Ethiopian students and reducing
the gaps that exist between Ethiopian and other
- Decreasing the percentage
of Ethiopian student drop-outs.
- Decreasing rates of crime,
drug-use and other at-risk behavior among Ethiopian
- Increasing the number
of Ethiopian students in higher education programs
related to professional fields for which there
is a demand in the Israeli labor market.
IAEJ's Community Empowerment Project
works to form of a network of active and efficient
grassroots Ethiopian non-profit organizations,
working for positive changes in education and
employment policies and programs for Ethiopian
Over the past year IAEJ has provided vital information,
guidance, and practical tools enabling local Ethiopian
groups and activists in five Israeli cities to
more effectively organize and advocate on behalf
of their communities.
Some of these organizations actively enlisted
IAEJ to help them resolve their conflicts. Others
were approached by the IAEJ as problems in their
locales came to IAEJ's attention. Through contact,
coordination, seminars and workshops, IAEJ helped
bridge conflicts, develop cooperation and advance
the activities of eleven grassroots Ethiopian
IAEJ Community Empowerment
advances improved education and employment progamming
in partnership with grassroots Ethiopian organizations
- Supporting local organizations
in organizing, attaining resources, implementing
activities and strengthening their positions
in their communities.
- Coordinating efforts of
- Focusing organizational
priorities on education and employment issues
locally, regionally and nationally.
- Assisting local organizations
in involving their communities in pro-education
and employment activities.
- Providing local Ethiopian
organizations and communities with detailed
information about educational and employment
rights, entitlements and programs.
- Explaining and Disseminating
relevant information to local organizations
and communities regarding national initiatives
for Ethiopian immigrants in Israel.
- Ensuring grassroots Ethiopian
participation in national initiative planning
IAEJ's Employment Initiative promotes governmental
policy and programming changes to more fully integrate
Ethiopian immigrants into the Israeli labor market,
and to reduce unemployment and poverty within the
A central problem facing Ethiopians in Israel is
the dangerously high unemployment rate facing the
community. In contrast to ongoing advocacy efforts
with regards to other issues such as education,
solutions to this critical situation have not been
actively formulated or pursued by policy makers
and government ministries to date. The most recent
available research on the matter indicates that:
- 47% of Ethiopian adults,
ages 25 - 54 do not participate in the Israeli
labor market in any form, as opposed to 24%
of other Israelis of the same age group.
- Only 38% of Ethiopian
women ages 25 - 54 are in the labor market,
as opposed to 68% of other Israeli women of
the same age group.
- More than 90% of Ethiopian
immigrants, who are employed, work in low-paying
manual labor and minimum wage positions.
- 62% of Ethiopian families
have no income at all.
- 72% of Ethiopian children
live in households below the poverty line.
- The majority of Ethiopian
immigrants with professional degrees and/or
degrees of higher education are unable to find
work in their fields.
IAEJ's Employment Initiative
explore new methods for solving short term problems
and enacting long term changes. IAEJ works closely
with a number of social justice organizations,
municipal offices, government ministries, and
other concerned bodies.
IAEJ's new Media Project empowers the Ethiopian
community to represent itself via the Israeli media
- Increased placement of
Ethiopian immigrants qualified for positions
within the Israeli print, radio and television
- Balance in the Israeli
media's portrayal of the Ethiopian Jewish community.
A vital part of generating
a balanced portrayal of the Ethiopian community
in Israel is the introduction of Ethiopian faces
and voices within the media.
Such visibility provides positive and respected
public representation of the Ethiopian community.
Ethiopians placed thus may also be in position
to counter the media's natural dramatic tendency
to focus on the negative when dealing with immigrant
The danger of dramatic negative media portrayal
is twofold. It is a primary factor in determining
public perceptions of Ethiopian Israelis. It also
generates negative self-image, low self-esteem
and negative reactions within the Ethiopian community
itself - particularly among youths and young adults.
IAEJ's Project recognizes that it is as
important to focus on the progress being made,
as it is to highlight the problems still remaining.
This is especially true given the point in its
absorption process at which the community now
finds itself. More than ten years have passed
since the first large immigration and the balance
between advances and obstacles are shifting. The
images and perceptions that comes to define the
community at this time, both internally and externally,
will play an important role in what the future
* IAEJ Media Watchdog Project is being
conducted in partnership with HIAS Israel.
Kav HaOfek - IAEJ's Quarterly
KAV HA'OFEK ( HORIZON
) - A Quarterly IAEJ Magazine Dedicated
to Ethiopian Immigrant Issues
is a 16 page, full-color magazine published every
3 months in Hebrew by IAEJ to raise awareness
and provide perspective on the various issues
facing Ethiopian immigrants in Israel to policy
makers, social justice organizations, and the
Ethiopian activist community.
The magazine is halfway through
its first year of publication, and is an integral
part of IAEJ's struggle to increase public understanding
of the Ethiopian community, its needs, and its
Kav Ha'ofek also serves as an
important conduit for channeling information to
decision makers, government officials, non-profit
organizations and other parties with the interest
and influence to positively affect policy and
programming for Ethiopians in Israel.
provides a unique perspective on how policy and
programming initiatives affect individuals and
communal affairs, the effects of national budgetary
and security concerns on day-to-day Ethiopian
immigrant life, and basic current affairs within
the Ethiopian community in Israel.
The magazine invites policy makers and others
to an intimate encounter with the lives of Ethiopian
immigrants, their struggles, and their steady
integration into Israeli society.