2021 was a challenging year, but we continued to work tirelessly to ensure that all Israeli citizens can live in dignity. We’re proud to share some recent highlights of our work:
PROMOTING GOVERNMENT INVESTMENT IN VOCATIONAL TRAINING
We worked intensively with our partners at Springboard: Investing in the Workforce of the Future to advance governmental reforms and increase investment in vocational training programs. As a result, the new government consolidated the various employment bodies under the Ministry of Economy; after decades-long reluctance to invest in vocational training, the government allocated an impressive 1.5 billion NIS for professional training and increasing the number of jobs in academia; some 30,000 people participated in vocational training programs, more than double the number before the pandemic; and the Ministry of Labor adopted “The Green Track,” an innovative model that we developed to enable employers and training institutions to initiate and receive full funding for courses that are relevant to the current labor market.
STRENGTHENING SUPPORT FOR UNEMPLOYED PEOPLE
We waged a successful campaign, together with our partners in the Headquarters for Employment Advancement, to ensure full unemployment benefits for recipients of disability, old age, alimony, and income supplements. Due to a ban on ‘double benefits,’ they weren’t eligible for full unemployment benefits even though they’d lost their jobs in the wake of COVID-19 and faced poverty. We met and advocated before decision-makers from the Government Budget Division, Bituach Leumi (National Insurance), and government members and ministers, including the Minister for Social Equality. In response, the government issued a temporary order that lifted the ban on double benefits until December 2021, and Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman recently announced that the payment of double benefits will continue in 2022. As a result of our efforts, around 40,000 people received unemployment benefits totaling 800 million NIS.
PROTECTING UNEMPLOYED PEOPLE AGED 67 AND OLDER
Together with our partners at the Headquarters for Employment Advancement, we persuaded the government to continue granting a monthly stipend to older people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Our joint efforts led to the stipend being extended from December 2020 until October 2021 – in spite of opposition from the Government’s Budget Division. By October 2021, some 50,000 laid-off workers aged 67 and older had received stipends totaling 1.5 billion NIS. This supplemental income was an economic lifeline for the recipients, who either had little or no pension coverage.
INVESTING IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATORS
We expanded In Good Hands: Headquarters for Investing in Early Childhood, a forum that we initiated in 2020, to include 43 diverse partner organizations. Together, we hit important milestones in driving change. We mobilized broad support from decision-makers, heads of local authorities, parents, and educators and persuaded the Ministry of Education to invest 25 times more than in previous years in the training and education of early childhood educators working with children from birth until the age of three. In response to our work, the Ministry of Education has pledged to provide 220 hours of fully-funded training for 10,000 early childhood educators in 2022.
REFORMING THE SENIOR WORKER BENEFITS SYSTEM
Even though an increasing share of Israelis work beyond retirement age, the state penalizes them by cutting their senior citizen benefits according to their income. Before the pandemic, we launched a campaign with our partner, VeHadarta: The Third Strength, to fix this flaw in the system. Following the formation of the new government in 2021, we ramped up our work around this issue, recruiting new partners for our 60 and Up Forum and campaigning for legislative reform. In November 2021, an amendment to the law was passed by the Knesset, increasing the income threshold before the offset in benefits to 6,750 NIS per month in 2022 and to 7,750 NIS per month in 2023.
ENSURING FULL UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS FOR VOCATIONAL TRAINING PARTICIPANTS
With our partners at Springboard: Investing in the Workforce of the Future, we demanded an end to the policy of deducting 30% in unemployment benefits from participants in vocational training programs. We prompted decision-makers to acknowledge that unemployed people should be encouraged and not deterred from enhancing their career skills and opportunities through training. The Knesset recently approved a legislative amendment suspending the cuts until the end of 2022.
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