Middle of the Road, launched in 2017, seeks to promote multigenerational employment in keeping with Tevet’s goal of workforce diversity. The program serves Israelis aged 45 to 75 who wish to continue working or to re-enter the workforce after retirement. It was designed to preserve, strengthen and utilize the knowledge and experience gained by older Israelis through a lifetime of work, as well as to improve participants’ economic and social well-being.
The program helps older adults acquire the knowledge, and hard and soft skills required by the fast-changing job market in order to obtain suitable employment, including self-employment. In doing so, it also responds to the shortage of skills in certain fields, such as high-tech.
Middle of the Road operates in three cities in central Israel, using existing infrastructure of employment or community centers. It runs along three main tracks:
- Targeted professional training, as well as learning designed to bridge knowledge gaps in computer literacy, English and other fields;
- Employment readiness coaching in one-on-one and group workshop settings;
- Development of self-employment abilities.
The program develops relationships with employers on local and national levels to increase the supply of available positions for older adults. This often involves underscoring the many advantages of employing older workers, not the least of which is a diversified workforce.
For example, a technology refresher course for older software engineers aims to restore their skills and experience to the workforce through the study of advanced subjects based on their previous education and experience. The course imparts up-to-date knowledge such as Android software, data science, the principles of agile development, and the development of practical skills.
What’s Special about this Program?
The program addresses issues related to both supply and demand. It includes the preparation of older adults for re-integration into the workforce after they have gone into retirement or found themselves unemployed and unable to find work due to their age. It also seeks to change societal attitudes toward older workers, in general, and those of employers in particular, in order to expand the jobs pool for this population and provide employers with necessary skills.
The newspaper ad for the program found Orly at a point she describes as squarely in the middle of the road. She had worked when she was younger, but then dedicated herself fully to raising her children. “At first it was a choice. We decided I would be a full-time mom, so the kids would not come home to an empty house after school,” she says. “But as time went on, and I found myself in a cycle of cooking and cleaning and taking care of the kids, I felt I was being left behind. I wanted so badly to return to work, to dress up, put on makeup, go out, be effective, needed, and to once again make some money.”
Orly had no idea how or where to start after so many years: “How do I make myself relevant? What do I tell an employer? That I ran a house? What employer would want me? It’s not easy for mothers, in any case.”
The ad directed her to the Middle of the Road program in her hometown and a meeting with Michal, one of the center’s coordinators. “She was so amazing, full of energy, listening to me. And I was sniffling, shy, telling her my life story,” Orly recalls.
Michal went through Orly’s resume, updated it, and taught her what to say at a job interview. “I didn’t even think anyone would summon me to a job interview, but Michal told me to think big. She was calming, empathetic, and suggested all sort of courses I could take. It’s a process. It doesn’t happen overnight. Things have to seep in,” she says.
“And now, in the middle of the road, I find myself learning computer applications, brushing up my English and looking for the kind of work I want. I have this program to thank for helping people find their way to employment and getting back on the right track,” says a grateful Orly.
Using various outreach avenues (ads, community forums) the program locates and recruits participants. After evaluating and assessing their needs and abilities, they are directed to one of three tracks:
- Short-term employment counseling and coaching (three to five customized sessions);
- Career shift and vocational training programs;
- Mentoring in entrepreneurship skills designed to result in self-employment.
At the end of the process, the program helps participants find work in accordance with the goals they set out for themselves.
The Program in Numbers
Each of the three centers aims to get 360 annual program applications, and achieve direct or indirect job placement of at least 50% of the participants. Based on experience and research, 80% are expected to be of working age and 50% will have college or university degrees.