In recent years, employment programs in Israel and abroad have started offering employment advancement services to complement their job placement services. This comes from the understanding that most people who find work through employment programs are placed in low-paying jobs. Low pay is not unique to participants in employment programs, and indeed, the rate of workers in low-paying jobs in Israel is higher than the OECD average. For this reason, JDC-Israel-Tevet developed the Kidum program, which provides services to help workers in low-paying jobs gain higher wages and professional advancement.
In 2012, a pilot of the Kidum program was introduced at employment centers throughout Israel. In early 2014, the program expanded to Mafteach and Kivun employment centers serving Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews, and on a more limited scale to other employment programs including Riyan centers for the Arab population, and Rampa for people with disabilities. The program recruited suitable participants, helped them set advancement goals, and provided support in their efforts to achieve their goals.
The study monitored the outcomes of participants who joined Kidum in early 2014 and remained in the program for more than a year by the end of 2016. We focused on the Mafteach and Kivun centers since most of the participants who had been in the program that long were at those centers. The study followed the program since its inception.
Studies: The rate of participants who entered vocational training, academic studies, or other courses (e.g., English or computer skills) was 11 percentage points higher than in the comparison group (45% vs. 34%) – a statistically significant difference. Sixty-one percent of the participants who registered for studies were still studying at the time of the survey, and some had reduced their weekly work hours for the benefit of their studies.
Employment advancement: The rate of participants who had increased their wages by 10% or more was 7 percentage points higher than in the comparison group (46% vs. 39%). This difference is not statistically significant, but perhaps suggests that the participants may have benefitted from the program.
Implementation: At the Mafteach Centers, the program generally operated according to the implementation model. There were difficulties recruiting participants, particularly men. The fact that the coordinator's position was not fulltime made it more difficult to implement the program.
In summary, the program helped participants acquire vocational training or pursue academic studies. There is also evidence that that the program had a modest positive impact on the employment advancement of its participants, though not all of the impact estimates were statistically significant. The program has recently reduced its activity in the Haredi sector, but has increased its work considerably in the Arab sector. The study findings will support discussions about the future directions of the Kidum program.