Imtiaz, Arabic for “excellence”, focuses on counseling and guiding Arab high school seniors, graduates and students. It complements an array of services provided by the Riyan employment centers in Arab towns and villages.
The number of Arab Israelis enrolling in colleges and universities is growing, but many prospective students do not have older role models to consult regarding their choices. Many Arabs take low-level jobs after graduating high school to earn money and never pursue further studies. Of the Arab students who do enroll in high education programs, only 36% graduate on time, largely due to social and familial pressures to support the family upon entering adulthood.
Given that higher education is often a path to financial independence, Imtiaz sets out to help Arab citizens tackle these obstacles, find the education programs that are right for them, and eventually find a job in their field.
The program offers an array of tools and services enhancing participants’ chances of finding employment. It provides training for various state exams, a preparatory course for assessment center tests, a work interview preparation course, personal and group guidance, CV writing tutorial, advice on career change, Hebrew and English language courses, and more.
The program was launched in the Arab city of Tira in 2014 with 67 participants. Following a successful first year, Imtiaz was expanded to 14 additional Arab towns and cities, with the financial support of Israel’s Ministry of Economy.
Imtiaz is run in JDC’s Arab Employment Centers by Al-Fanar, the JDC-born and Arab-led NGO for Arab-Israeli initiatives.
Imtiaz builds partnerships with local high schools and institutions in each of its locations to inform students about the possibilities of higher education. Imtiaz counselors help participants complete matriculation exams, enroll in English courses, develop their career paths and more.
Students enrolled in higher education receive first year mentorship from Imtiaz staff on building a career plan. Imtiaz also acts as a networking service, connecting participating students with job opportunities upon graduation.
What’s Special about the Program:
Imtiaz is unique in the support it provides for young Arab Israelis aspiring to continue their studies and plan their careers – support that is often lacking in their communities or families. It generates targeted responses and partnerships enabling participants to choose suitable career paths commensurate with their skills, cultural norms, wishes, and the demands of the labor market.
Zaynab graduated from the Yezreel Valley College with a degree in health system management.
“As soon as I graduated, I started sending my CV to hospitals and HMOs, but nobody got back to me. When I called them, I was told they had no positions relevant to my field of study. Meanwhile, all my friends were shifting to nursing studies, but I wasn’t sure that was what I wanted. At that point I went to the Riyan Employment Center in Nazareth to get counseling that would help me integrate successfully into the workforce.
“I underwent an intake session with the Imtiaz coordinator at the center, Rim Abu Hadra, and we mapped out a plan of action adapted to my needs. At the second session I took an aptitude test to diagnose my employment preferences and skills and I was then placed in a career planning workshop.
“Already during the second workshop session, my thinking started to change and that helped me make the momentous decision about my future. I understood that I didn’t necessarily have to work in the field I had studied and that there were other options suited to my skills. I applied for a career change track to nursing and was invited for an interview at the Hillel Yaffe hospital in the town of Hadera. Thanks to the tools I acquired in the workshop, I made a good impression and aced the interview, and will soon be starting an undergraduate nursing program.
“I would like to note especially that beyond the professional aspect, the workshop helped me in terms of personal development. I learned a lot about myself, my desires and how to realize a dream.”
The program seeks to place Arab academics in employment commensurate with their skills and wishes, increase the rate and number of Arabs studying subjects relevant to the labor market, and create career change platforms relevant to the needs of the workforce for unemployed or underemployed Arab academics. It also strives to raise awareness among employers of the potential of Arab university graduates.
It consists of several parallel tracks:
- Helping participants plan a long-term career path based on academic studies and employment experience;
- Counseling participants on directions for higher learning based on the employment centers’ knowledge of labor market needs, with an emphasis on the unique features of Arab society and culture;
- Changing attitudes among employers toward hiring Arab graduates.
The Program in Numbers
- The program was launched in the Arab city of Tira in 2014 with 67 participants.
- It expanded to 15 venues and has served over 4,600 students and graduates.
- Some 72% of the participants are women.
- Over 100 participants have found employment in the public sector.