Job-seekers unimpressed by Absorption Ministry employment fair
Thousands of jobless immigrants attended what was termed an "emergency job fair" at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds on Tuesday, as Absorption Ministry officials warned that the employment picture for recent arrivals could deteriorate.
The career fair, organized by the ministry, featured 40 companies looking to fill a total of 1,000 jobs.
Firms hiring included local giants like Teva, Partner, Bezeq, the Israel Electric Corp. and Yes, with most of the jobs in marketing, sales and technical support.
Also present were representatives of the Israel Police Central District, who were looking for new recruits for field and station positions.
The rest of the employers were small to mid-sized businesses offering widely diverse positions ranging from English teachers to geophysicists, hotel entertainment crews and bus drivers.
Nevertheless, many who attended complained that there were no jobs on offer in their fields.
"We made great efforts to bring a wide range of employers to the fair. It was a selective process. We invited only those who offered high-level positions," said Claudia Katz, director of employment in the ministry.
"Usually in job fairs, 10% of the people who attend find jobs. We hope to see the same numbers here," she said.
Katz described the event as an "emergency job fair," saying recent data indicate that a severe employment crisis is about to strike and that new immigrants are to be among those hardest hit.
"Right now, at 7.25%, unemployment rates among new immigrants are lower than among Israelis, but we are about to feel it too," said Katz.
Apparently immigrants are already feeling it. The 3,000 people who converged on the fair exceeded the ministry's expectations by 50 percent. As a result, the venue was seriously overcrowded.
"I think they did a fairly good job and I'm pleased," said Amir Liberman, originally from the Dominican Republic, who has been in the country for five years. "I already received a call from one of the places I dropped my resume at. I've been invited for a second interview for a barista position at Arcaffe.
"The benefit here is that you get to talk to people face to face and don't have to mess around with sending emails back and forth and leaving messages with secretaries."
Liberman's partner, Ella Bor, a fellow student at Bar-Ilan University who came from England three years ago, was far less impressed.
"I was ready to leave after five minutes. There were no jobs there for the industry I'm interested in, which is economics and finance. It's easier to do it all online. It would have been much better if they would bring interested employers to the university."
Yosef and Yehuda Kirschenbaum, who came to Israel from New York City three weeks ago, were also unimpressed.
"They didn't have that much of a selection for my area of work," said Yosef, a certified chef. "I think there were only one or two positions in the food sector."
Yehuda, a trained restaurant manager, said he would be willing to take on jobs in other areas if something really interesting would come along and even left a couple of resumes, but shared his younger brother's general opinion of the job fair.
Andrea Baian, a psychologist who made aliya from Brazil four years ago, has yet to find a job in her field.
"Here is nothing available, not in my field, but not in other places either. I came to see if I could get a job in Berlitz teaching Portuguese, but there just aren't enough people [interested] to do it."
Baian, who lives with her retired mother in Netanya, said she had to stop her studies at Haifa University because she couldn't afford to pay the tuition.
Gladis Berezowsky, who runs the Latin American Immigrant association, said many immigrants from South America have trouble finding jobs here.
"It seems like the whole system is geared towards the Russian immigrants and the French immigrants. Those who don't belong to either are often left out."
She said that out of the 250 immigrants who arrive from Latin America every year, between 10% to 20% go back to their home countries because they simply can't find good jobs.
Berezowsky said she was disappointed by the jobs offered at the fair.
"There were nearly no jobs for academics, only for sales positions and telemarketing. Where was Intel? Where were the hi-tech companies that we are so proud of? Next time I won't bother bringing my people to events like this. Instead, I'd advise them to use the Internet."
"What we brought is what there is," responded Absorption Minister Sofa Landver. "I think that considering the economic crisis and the fact that the economic pyramid has been flipped over, the fact that we brought out 40 employers is really important. This is the situation of the Israeli economy and it is no different for new immigrants."
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