ITWorks’ technology workshops and training courses seek to close social gaps in Israel (Courtesy)
After working for seven years at Cisco Systems Inc. in Israel, Ifat Baron-Goldberg got up and left. She decided it was time to move on and wanted to do something that would tie in with both business and society.
“Fifteen years ago, no one was talking about diversity of the workplace in Israel,” Baron-Goldberg said in an interview with The Times of Israel. The technology market “was booming and it is still booming. But only a few are actually benefiting from this boom. So, I decided to set up an organization that would bridge the demand for human capital and the needs of workers.”
In 2006, Baron-Goldberg, today 39, set up ITWorks, a nonprofit social startup that seeks to promote diversity in the workplace and allow under-served and under-privileged adults living in Israel’s social and geographic periphery to realize their professional potential.
The idea, said Baron-Goldberg, is to close income gaps between social, ethnic and gender groups in Israel and bring a bite of Israel’s flourishing tech scene — which has a strong presence in the country’s metropolitan areas — to places like Yeruham and Dimona, cities that suffer from high unemployment levels and a shortage of quality, high-level tech positions.
“As of January this year there were 3,700 vacancies for entry level positions in Israeli tech firms,” she said. “The government talks about importing workers from abroad in the effort to meet the demand of our high-tech industry, but we have so much untapped local talent that we could be using. ITWorks goes out to these cities and finds out what the local opportunities are. Then we match the jobs to the workers.”
ITWorks’ pool of talent includes women, Arabs, Druze, Circassians, new immigrants, adults with intellectual and sensory disabilities and members of the ultra-Orthodox community. The nonprofit organization sets up training courses, boot camps and hackathons to boost the abilities of its talent pool. It cooperates with local and national bodies as well as with Israeli technology firms to make sure its courses match both the needs of its candidates and the requirements of the businesses.
Israel’s high-tech workforce lacks diversity and is characterized by a high number of Jewish, non-ultra-Orthodox men, while women, Arabs and ultra-Orthodox populations remain underrepresented, a report by the Finance Ministry showed last month.
“Many times, even if students obtain relevant degrees that could get them high-tech jobs, they are lacking the networks and contacts needed to land those jobs. Sixty percent of jobs are attained via acquaintances. We help them make these contacts and create a network,” Baron-Goldberg said.
For those who don’t have adequate skills, ITWorks provides soft and hard skills training, including a help-desk vocational training course, Java and hardware and software development.
“It is not always easy to get to our target populations,” she said. “Many times, these are people who have lost hope in finding a job and resigned to becoming yet another generation mired in poverty.”
ITWorks also sets up workshops for its proteges and potential employers to overcome cultural gaps.
Research has shown that Arab workers, for example, lack soft skills like self-confidence, entrepreneurship and the ability to market themselves, she said. They tend not to look at interviewers in the eye and “don’t boast about their achievements.”
ITWorks’ workshops help potential employees develop soft and hard skills to match them to the job (Courtesy)
“One candidate of mine didn’t even tell the interviewer that he was on the dean’s list at university, because he was so modest. Once you explain these issues to potential employers, these gaps can be closed and positions filled, ” she said.
ITWorks recently set up an American unit, also a nonprofit, that has just started cooperating with the US freelancer site Upwork to help its proteges get jobs in Silicon Valley but still continue to live at home in Israel.
Based in Silicon Valley, Upwork has some 12 million freelancers globally using its platform to find jobs, according to company data.
“Freelancers work alone and often they don’t have the support they need,” said Baron-Goldberg. “So, we help them with their pricing strategy and if needed we provide them with technical assistance if they hit a snag while doing their work.”
From a one-woman operation, ITWorks now employs 32 workers and makes some 600 job placements a year. Customers include Check Point Software Ltd., Intel Corp., Microsoft and IBM, she said.
Baron-Goldberg was invited last month as the Israeli representative to the UN’s Nexus Global Forum, which brings together young leaders from around the world to create inspiration, dialogue and solve common problems. She has also been awarded the Hadassah Foundation’s Bernice Tannenbaum Prize for her work promoting economic justice and equality for women and girls in Israel.
Nov 04, 2017 0
The UN Security Council. Photo: Twitter.
American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital should serve as a “reality check” for the Palestinians, the Jewish state’s UN envoy said on Friday, ahead of the start of a special Security Council session on the issue.
“President Trump’s declaration marks a milestone — for Israel, for peace and for the world,” Ambassador Danny Danon said.
The Palestinians, Danon further noted, “can choose violence as they have always done, or they can choose to join us at the negotiating table.”
“The Security Council must send a clear message that there is never an excuse for violence,” he declared. “Violence must never be used as a threat.”
The UN agency is currently dominated by the most oppressive regimes on education and culture. There is China, which recently let writer, poet and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo die an agonizing death in prison, where he was serving an 11-year jail sentence for his support of human rights and democracy.
Then there is Iran, where a dean of journalism, Siamak Pourzand, committed suicide to avoid more persecution by the regime.”UNESCO has been hijacked and abused as a tool for the persecution of Israel and the Jewish people, while concocting fake facts and fake history, meant to… rewrite global history.” — Carmel Shama Hacohen, Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO.
Prague Old Town Square, Czech Republic. (Shutterstock)
In a sign of Biblical prophecy that the nations will gaze upon a unified Jerusalem with joy, and following US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital Wednesday night, the Czech Republic has said that it also recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state.
“The Czech Republic currently, before the peace between Israel and Palestine is signed, recognizes Jerusalem to be in fact the capital of Israel in the borders of the demarcation line from 1967,” said a statement issued by the Czech foreign ministry.
A Palestinian protester holds stones during clashes with Israeli troops as Palestinians call for a “day of rage” in response to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Bethlehem, West Bank, Dec. 8, 2017.
The next few days will show whether the Palestinian Authority (PA) is headed toward the kind of chaos that could result in the collapse of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ government, or whether the Palestinians will manage to contain their outrage over President Donald Trump’s announcement that he recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Afghan protesters shout slogans during a protest againstÊU.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, in Kabul, Afghanistan December 8, 2017. (photo credit: OMAR SCOBHANI / REUTERS)
JERUSALEM – Thousands of Palestinians protested in a “day of rage” on Friday in the West Bank, Gaza and in east Jerusalem against US President Donald Trump’s recognition of the ancient city as Israel’s capital.
Across the Arab and Muslim worlds, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets on Friday, the Muslim holy day, expressing solidarity with the Palestinians and outrage at the US move.
The real national camp—and no, I’m not referring to Likud but to the camp pursuing a Jewish, democratic and incorrupt state—has an actual chance of returning to power.
About one-third of Likud voters are presumably fed up with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s way. It’s true that he’s made achievements. It’s true that the attacks on him were often vile, exaggerated hypocritical and filled with lies, mistakes, and manipulations. But no more. What could have been argued two or three or five years ago, quite rightfully, can no longer be argued today. Something has changed..
Over the last five hundred years, famous rabbinic leaders have called to limit the overwhelming authority of Rabbi Yosef Karo’s Shulchan Aruch and Rambam’s Mishne Torah. (1) They felt that these works do not reflect authentic Judaism and its halachic tradition. (2) The reason is obvious. These great codes of Jewish Law are very un-Jewish in spirit. They present Halacha in ways which oppose the heart and soul of the Talmud, and therefore of Judaism itself. They deprived Judaism of its multifaceted halachic tradition and its inherent music. It is not the works themselves which are the problem, but the ideology which they represent: The ethos of codifying and finalizing Jewish Law.
The New York Times published the Palestinian response to an alleged Saudi peace plan. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reportedly presented it to PLO chief and Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas last month.
According to the Times’ report, Mohammed told Abbas he has two months to either accept the Saudi proposal or leave office to make way for a new Palestinian leader who will accept it.
Israel is celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the historic visit of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem, that led to the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. The move by Egypt, the largest and strongest Arab state, changed the dynamics of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Sadat violated the Arab taboo against good neighborly relations with the Jewish state and opened the way for additional peace agreements. The defection of Egypt from the Arab military coalition eliminated the option of a two-front conventional war against Israel and saved the Israeli taxpayer billions of dollars. The heavy price paid by Israel to Egypt was total withdrawal from the Sinai and removal of settlements. But, in retrospect, it worked out well, turning Israel into “the land had peace
Islamic world more than fifty years ago, when I became fascinated by the classes taught by my Arabic teacher, the late Dov Iron, in Tel Aviv’s Zeitleen high school. From the very first class in early September 1066, I realized that we are being exposed to a culture that differs in every respect from the one upon which I was raised. I realized that the Arabic language is the key to a whole new world, one that thinks, feels and behaves in a way that must be studied perceptively in order to be understood.