Integration of Young Adults into Employment: Resources, Barriers and Needs – Main Findings

In recent decades, young adults in Israel and abroad have encountered increasing difficulty in entering the workforce. In Israel, these difficulties are particularly severe for young adults with low levels of education or with a physical or mental disability. Beyond finding work, there are gaps between the employers’ demands and the skills of the young adults, which reduce their earning power and limit the type of work they can find.

This report presents the findings of a study that – for the first time in Israel – provides comprehensive, up-to-date information about the characteristics and needs of young adults at risk of non-employment or employment in low-level work. It examined their success in integrating into employment or post-secondary education; difficulties  encountered; assistance received from various systems; and further needs. The study aims to increase awareness of their needs and provide a basis for planning policy and programs to ease their transition into adult life.

The study included in-depth telephone interviews with a weighted sample of some 1,200 young adults aged 23-26, including those with up to 12 years of schooling (working and not working), young adults with disabilities, and young adults with more than 12 years of education, who were neither working nor studying at post-high-school level. The study findings are published in three separate reports: 1. Young adults who were neither working nor studying in a post-high school framework and who did not intend to study in the coming year – 11% of the age cohort; 2. Young adults with physical, sensory, intellectual and mental disabilities, as well as learning disabilities and attention and concentration problems – 14% of the age cohort; 3. Young adults who were working and had no more than 12 years of schooling – 21% of the age cohort. There was some overlap between the group of young adults with disabilities and the other two groups.

The current report presents findings about these three populations, among them:

  • Disability constitutes a considerable barrier to employment, as evidenced by the fact that 38% of the young adults who were neither working nor studying had a disability of some kind.
  • Most of the young adults who were neither working nor studying reported that they would like to work; about half of them reported that they needed assistance, mainly guidance and counseling. Those with disabilities reported they would also need support and placement. Only a small percentage (up to 10% of each group) had participated in preparatory employment workshops.
  • Between 35% and 42% in all three groups were interested in studying, preferably vocational training.
  • The study identified a group of young adults in need of particular attention, having been out of work for an extended period (39% of those neither working nor studying) or due to unstable unemployment and/or dissatisfaction with it (23% of those employed).

The findings indicate several programmatic directions: encourage opportunities for study (post-high-school and vocational studies) and make them accessible; increase programming that focuses on transition to employment; and increase employment and academic guidance and counseling. Some of the findings have been presented at various forums and have contributed to policymaking processes and the development of programs.

The study was funded with the assistance of the Mandell Berman Fund for Research on Children with Disabilities and the Gandyr Foundation.