The National Employment Service (NES) has presented its plan to downsize the number of foreign laborers currently working in Israel.

According to the plan the State will sponsor the training of thousands of unemployed Israelis who will begin to reassert themselves in the fields long-since dominated by foreigners – construction, agriculture and the restaurant industry.

The project will cost an estimated $23 million and in its wake the employment of foreign workers will cease in all fields except nursing.

The NES seeks to create a 'preferential employment' model for employment in the aforementioned problematic branches.

This would include the payment of bonuses for diligence, the cancellation of a 30 percent tax on unemployment aid for those in training for jobs in these fields and tax breaks for employees after their training, scholarship incentives, encouraging job absorption in groups and monetary aid for daycare.

According to data presented by the Employment Service Israel currently maintains the following quotas for foreign labor: agriculture – 29,000, construction – 12,000, industry – 1,200, restaurants (ethnic and mixed) – 900 and the largest number of foreign laborers is allotted to the nursing industry – 44,000.

The plan calls for the number of workers employed in the construction industry to 9,000 in 2008 – 6,000 in 2009 and only professionals in 2010.

In agriculture the NES hopes to drive the number down to 26,000 in 2008 (no projections have been made for 2009 and 2010 yet). In the restaurant industry the goal for 2008 is 500 foreign workers and only professionals in 2009.

The NES says that there is an enormous potential for Israeli manpower for these fields. According to the Service's figures there are currently only 6,000 Israelis working today in construction while the potential figure is set at 33,000 (men aged 18-45 with up to 12 years of schooling). In agriculture there are currently 1,800 Israeli employees – the potential figure is 80,000 (men and women aged 18-45 with up to 12 years of schooling).