The Starter program was launched in 2016 to help unemployed, under-employed and unskilled adults successfully transition into professional employment using apprenticeship training. The apprenticeship model, which enjoys growing popularity around the world, combines formal classroom instruction with on-the-job training guided by an assigned mentor.
The apprenticeship model has long been popular in some European countries, in a centuries-old tradition of young workers learning a trade within a guild system. In Israel, however, apprenticeship has never taken hold for a variety of reasons.
In addition to helping individual participants integrate into the workforce, the program seeks to develop a wider culture of apprenticeship among Israeli employers.
The apprenticeship program is tailored to the needs of each employer, as well as to those of the apprentices. Participating employers benefit by hiring employees tailor-groomed to their needs and enjoying monthly subsidies for time devoted to training the apprentice.
The program prepares participants with three months of basic skills training and theoretical training prior to their entry into a workplace. They then begin their apprenticeship under the tutelage of experienced mentors, which provides them with both hands-on professional training and job placement, all while being paid for their work. They continue supplementary studies for two or three days a week. After completing training, all participants are required to take official Israeli government certification exams to receive formal credentials. Many of the trainees go on to work at the plants in which they apprenticed.
What’s Special about this Program?
The program is unique in that it recruits participants to work for employers even before they are trained. Thus,1.5 to two months from the start of training, participants start working part-time and getting paid. A significant part of the curriculum is imparted by employers through mentors assigned to the students. The program creates training and certifications paths in coordination with various industries, affording graduates the prospects of professional, social and economic mobility.
Ghazallah Hir Atalla, 27, is married, has one child and lives in the Galilee Druze village of Yarka. She joined Starter after graduating with a certificate as a practical industry and management engineer and being unable to find work due to lack of experience. Despairingly unable to find a job in her field of study, she decided to change direction and acquire a degree in education that would ensure her work as a teacher.
However, at the start of her second year of studies, Ghazallah heard about a training program in robotics and automation through a notice she received from the Ort Braude College of Engineering. Ghazallah signed up, studied at the college and began her apprenticeship in the Production Planning and Control Department of Colibri, a plant specializing in coolant-driven jet spindles for CNC machines.
Three months after starting her apprenticeship at Colibri, she was promoted to the job of running the plant’s PP&C department.
- The first step is locating an employer or group of employers from the same region who wish to take part in the program and adapt the curriculum to their professional needs.
- Eligible participants are then identified according to the threshold requirements determined by the program and the employers.
- The training combines classroom study with a paid apprenticeship under the guidance of dedicated mentors.
- Program staff accompany students and mentors throughout the process.
- At the end of their studies and apprenticeship, students take a written and practical exam by the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services' vocational training department, followed by certification of those who pass.
The program staff consists of a manager, a training director, an employer and community liaison and three regional coordinators.
Program in Numbers
So far, 316 people have taken part in 17 courses.
Some 260 of the participants have been placed.
The number of participating employers is at 112.