As part of Israel’s acceptance into the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) in 2010, the OECD’s Employment, Labour, and Social Affairs Committee published a review of Israel’s labour market and social policies.
The review contained 16 key recommendations for improvements in Israel’s labour market and social policies in five broad areas:
The enhancement of employment opportunities for disadvantaged populations
Reducing gaps in education
The development of public infrastructures such as transportation, in the periphery
The expansion and reform of pension coverage
The status of foreign workers in the labour market
Israel was asked to submit a progress report to the OECD on the implementation of the recommendations within two years of its joining. The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labour has responsibility for coordinating the links with the OECD on these issues. It turned to the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute to gather and integrate the relevant information and prepare a draft of the report.
The Institute worked with 17 government ministries and agencies and brought to bear all relevant sources to present an integrated and objective analysis of the progress made. These included the relevant ministerial departments as well as the Prime Minister’s Office, the Bank of Israel, the Ministry of Finance, the Knesset Research and Information Center, and JDC-Israel. It often required efforts to integrate and coordinate the perspectives of the different organizations addressing similar issues.
The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labour gave the final approval of the report and submitted it to the OECD in September 2012.
Each chapter in this progress report relates to one of the 16 recommendations. The report summarizes the steps taken by the government since 2009 relating to:
Steps and resolutions that have been approved and are being implemented
Steps that have been approved but have not yet been implemented
Further steps that are in the process of approval or planning
In addition, wherever possible it provides information on concrete quantitative indicators of the trends in the actual budget allocations and the number of people being served as well as relevant outcome indicators.
Most of the information in this report is based on materials and written responses from the authorized government departments, supported by relevant government resolutions. Furthermore, efforts were made to include relevant information from national sources such as the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), the Bank of Israel, the Knesset Research and Information Centre, government committees, and various research reports.
The report also refers to the recommendations of the Committee for Socio-Economic Change headed by Professor Manuel Trajtenberg (hence, the Trajtenberg Committee). In the summer of 2011 Israel experienced very significant social protests of unprecedented magnitude. The protests focused specifically on the difficulties of young middle-class families with children, but related more broadly to issues of social justice and the role of the welfare state. In response, the government established the Trajtenberg Committee. The Committee issued its report in September which included extensive recommendations, many of them relating to labour market and social policies. Shortly after the submission of the report, the recommendations as a whole were adopted by the government in principle. Some of these have already been implemented and others are under consideration.
The report is unique in that it presents for the first time such a broad and in-depth perspective on Israel’s efforts to address a wide range of critical questions relating to these issues.
The report is a very important step in developing Israel’s dialogue with the OECD and the broader international community. Beyond that however, it creates a shared perspective among the various government ministries addressing these issues. It will serve as an important basis for further policy discussion in Israel within the government and with the broader society. It will thus serve as an important resource for Israel’s continuing efforts to address these major challenges.