After decades of isolation from the broader society, a dramatic rise has been noted in the number of haredi [ultra-orthodox] men and women seeking academic qualifications and, subsequently, a place in the general labor market – the men in particular. This is a relatively new phenomenon, and one that is likely to grow in the coming years. "Due to that isolation, combined with the fact that they are a minority group, they experience considerable difficulties integrating into the workforce," says Reut Marciano who, together with Dr. Dan Kaufmann, recently completed a research project on this topic. Such difficulties are often based on stigma and prejudice on the part of employers ("other studies have found this too") as well as due to a lack of experience among the young haredi graduates.
The JIIS study, completed last month for the Ministry of Industry and Trade, examined the success rate of haredis finding work upon graduation, and market attitudes toward them. The research team compared differences between haredi and non-haredi graduates of the same institutions as they seek work and, once employed, asked whether they work under similar or different conditions, such as salary levels.
In questionnaires distributed to the hundreds of participants in the research, they were asked, for example, how many responses they received from potential employers; how long they spent looking for a job; salaries offered, etc. Numerous other elements were then added to the analysis stage of the study so as to be able to isolate the “haredi” factor in the sample group. Interviews were also conducted for the study.
Marciano outlined the main findings: “Haredi graduates were definitely less well received in the work place than their non-haredi counterparts. They were invited to fewer job interviews and were accepted to fewer jobs. Moreover, the job-seeking process took considerably longer for them – 6.6 months compared to 4.6 months for non-haredi graduates of the same institutions.
“And when accepted into the workforce, the haredi group were paid somewhat lower salaries than others, in general. This might account for the fact that some of them – relatively more than the non-haredi group – prefer to be self-employed.
“One finding that did not match our original hypothesis was that there was no difference between the two groups in their willingness to change their place of residence for a job or a promotion.”
Finding a job is thus a long, hard slog for haredis, the researchers found. Those participating in the survey said they felt ignored by potential employers and the market in general and a certain disdain or disrespect for their diplomas.
Regarding haredi women, it was found that they send out less CVs than non-haredi women and that they too receive less offers of employment. However, for women, no differences were found in the time it takes to find a job or in salary levels, or between salaried work or self-employment. Haredi women, though, were less willing than the others to move place of residence for a job.
Marciano and Kaufmann conclude by saying that, despite the difficulties described, they did not find unemployment among the haredi graduates surveyed, even though it may have taken them longer to find it. “Nevertheless, just as the number of graduates is expected to rise, so are the difficulties.”