When you need help finding a job, where do you go? If you think that you want a change in career path, where do you turn? These questions could be challenging ones for anyone. If you were in the Greater Boston Area, you might reach out to Jewish Vocational Services (JVS), a partner agency of CJP, or ask people in your networks for tips. For Ethiopian-Israelis in Haifa, a population that faces barriers such as language issues and navigating the intricacies of Israeli bureaucracy, Boston-Haifa Connection is on-the-ground helping community members with economic advancement for themselves and their families. With sharp experiential differences between young adults and older adults in engaging with Israeli society, many Ethiopian-Israelis face the risk of being left behind. As part of the process of creating a more equitable experience for all Israelis as they seek to better their lives and the country as a whole, we’re working to ensure that there are programs that can help this demographic at every stage in life.
Kurat is a key program operated in conjunction between Boston-Haifa Connection and the municipality of Haifa to provide vocational training, grants and mentoring to Ethiopian-Israelis seeking to elevate themselves in the job market. Critical components of this process are the encouragement of program participants to advance their employability, fostering opportunities for business entrepreneurship, and facilitating an approach whereby participants are enabled to take charge of their professional development goals in a supportive environment. To this effect, participants receive mentoring, business entrepreneurship services, skills upgrading and stipends to further their vocational education. With over five years in-the-field, Kurat has seen the number of participants grow year-on-year. Simultaneously, more employers have been on-boarded as well, to provide participants with information about their industries and sectors and provide job shadowing opportunities. Participants have had opportunities to learn and gain experience from companies such as Egged, Israel’s leading bus company, Israel Railways, and the high-tech software company Amdocs.
To-date, nearly 400 individuals have benefitted from the services offered through Kurat, and program growth has been exponential. In fact, over 36% of participants joined up in the last year alone! This is truly a testament to the fact that beneficiary community members have begun to “sell” the program’s successes themselves! Participants have received entrepreneurial guidance, been assisted in creating business plans, and have received grants to develop proof-of-concept plans for a wide variety of business start-ups. Meanwhile, examples of partnership vocational training have included kindergarten teacher’s assistantships across the Haifa area, as well as group training sessions with the Rambam Hospital to train maintenance contractors as well as mediators able to bridge the cross-cultural health concerns of Ethiopian-Israelis. Success in this realm has enabled Kurat to extend its partnerships with major employers over the last year to include the Elisha Hospital and Bezeq, one of Israel’s main telecommunications companies. This growth reflects not only the success of Boston-Haifa Connection and the municipality of Haifa in improving lives through the Kurat program, but also the willingness with which additional community and business partners are partnering with Kurat for the mutual success of all parties. Looking forward, as Kurat continues to engage with more Ethiopian-Israelis across the Haifa area, the program aims to create more educational program that are specific for women and men, transform clients into partners to train others, and increase awareness about Kurat and its transformative programs within the broader community.