Employment Picture for Immigrants in Israel Not So Bleak, Survey Finds

More than half of the immigrants from the former Soviet Union who have been in Israel more than two years are working in fields they desire, according to new results from a nationwide survey.

The results counter the “unnecessarily pessimistic view of Russian employment” painted by most surveys, said Gila Noam, coordinator of absorption research for the Brookdale Institute, the research arm of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which conducted the survey.

“We see that as time progresses, the olim are more and more satisfied with what they are doing,” even if the jobs are not necessarily the same as the ones they had before, Noam said, using the Hebrew word for immigrants.

The survey of 1,200 immigrants, focusing on rates of employment, was done last summer, but new data from the survey, analyzing how the immigrants feel about their jobs, were released for the first time this week.

Since the survey was first publicized last year, “we have taken a closer look at the quality of employment,” said Noam. “To say they’re employed doesn’t address job satisfaction.”

The first set of survey results broke new ground because it showed a dramatic difference in employment rates between new immigrants and those who have been in Israel more than two years.

MOST SURVEYS PAINT BLEAKER PICTURE

Most surveys, by contrast, lump the immigrants into one group and get an inordinately bleak picture, when in fact there is a “dramatically different situation between veteran olim and more recent olim,” said Noam.

The new JDC data show that 39 percent of the immigrants surveyed overall are working in desired fields. But the number climbs to 56 percent among immigrants who have been here more than two years.

The JDC survey “is a more authentic reflection of reality,” said Noam.

The earlier survey results found that immigrants here for more than two years showed employment patterns similar to those of veteran Israelis.

The survey’s latest results go further, however. They indicate only a tiny minority (15 percent) found their incomes sufficient to meet daily expenses. No parallel figure for veteran Israelis was available.

The latest data also highlight hardest-hit professions and populations.

Only one-third of the immigrant doctors (both new and those here for more than two years) have any employment. Of those who are employed, 40 percent are working as doctors and 16 percent are working as nurses or paramedics.

More engineers are working. Sixty percent of them are employed, 20 percent as engineers and 20 percent in technical fields.

The group with the most employment are the skilled industrial workers. About 70 percent are employed, and more than 50 percent of those employed are working in their fields.

Meanwhile, the survey found single-parent families and those over age 55 the most vulnerable when it comes to finding work in Israel.

NEXT STORY