Basic country data
Total population: 8,059,400
(Last available year: 2013, World Bank)
Young dependency ratio: 45.07%
(Last available year: 2013, World Bank)
Israel has a population of just over 8 million people, of whom just over 6 million are Jews (of whom about 73% were born in Israel), while Arab citizens of Israel comprise just over 20% of the population and large numbers of migrant workers make up most of the rest of the population. Over 90% of the population lives in urban areas. In terms of economic performance and human resource development, Israel has improved rapidly and ranks – in many respects highly – among the advanced economies. In the UNDP's Human Development Index (HDI) Israel also ranks highly on the global scale and among economically developed countries. According to the Global Competitiveness Index 2014-15, Israel retains the 27th position in this year’s GCI. Israel is identified as having a world-class capacity for innovation (third in the world) with a highly innovative business sector and some of the world's best applied research institutions. The Israeli education system is compulsory between the ages of 5 and 18 (education is free between the ages of 3 and 18). The strength of the system is that it has high gross enrolment rates – 105% at primary level (ISCED 1), 98% at lower secondary (ISCED 2) – and 90% of Israeli youth (ISCED 3) have at least upper secondary qualifications (higher than the OECD average of 82%). In 2013 Israel ranked second among OECD countries for the percentage of adults with a tertiary education: 46% compared with an OECD average of 32%. The share of the population with at least an upper secondary education is 83%, well above the OECD average of 75%. Over the past decade, tertiary attainment (including advanced research programmes, i.e. ISCED levels 5A, 5B and 6) has risen faster than in upper secondary education.
Israel ranks fifth among OECD countries in terms of expenditure on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP, 8.1 % in 2012. In comparing Israel with the EU benchmarks in education and training and Europe 2020 (in education and employment), Israel performs very well in tertiary educational attainment (50.73% compared with EU average 36.8%); early school leavers (8.1% compared with EU average 11.9%); lifelong learning (9.5% compared with EU average 10.4%); and employment (69.4 % compared with EU average 68.3).
VET and employment policy progress since 2012
Even if Israel's population is well educated, its complex education system faces several challenges. Israel has the characteristics of an ageing society and the provision of younger people with the skills to replace older people in the labour market and with the skills to take on new kinds of jobs in an economy that is among the most innovative in the world is a pressing issue to resolve. The majority of secondary education students (60%) enrol in general academic upper secondary education, one third opt for technological programs and 3% enrol in industrial schools or apprenticeship pathways.
Equity and the improvement of opportunities for disadvantaged groups poses other major challenges.
TVET governance is fragmented, even though most provision is made in the public sector. The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of the Economy operate independently and maintain, manage and finance two distinct and parallel systems of TVET.
The education networks are a particular feature in the organisation and management of groups of schools across the country. About 40% of vocational students are enrolled in programmes in schools managed by the largest networks (ORT and AMAL).
To respond to these challenges, in 2014, the Israeli government led by the Ministry of Education launched a reform programme to adapt the education system to changing needs of the school population.
Country priorities for VET and employment reforms
• Strengthen system governance at various levels: 1) establishment of a coordinating council or committee, with a remit to consider and make recommendations on strategic as well as operational issues. 2) Dialogue and partnership with the social partners and in particular with employers should be placed on a more formal and systematic basis.
• Develop further capacities of The Manufacturers’ Association and the trade union confederation for handling TVET issues at all levels and through the stages of the policy process.
• Strengthen the territorial dimension by actively engaging local authorities, social partners and other community organisations in local initiatives and networks that help to both meet local labour market skills needs and support the employability of disadvantaged groups.
• Develop a robust labour market information system to support the development of skills needs analysis that TVET planners and managers need to plan effectively and review the range of skills identification and anticipation methodologies that can be used.
• Tackle specific group needs, namely Arab-Israeli and Ultra-Orthodox populations.
• ETF activities in the country include the participation of Israel in the regional EU-funded GEMM project (Governance for employability in the Mediterranean)
• Israel participates to the ETF cross country and peer learning activities
Support to the EU Delegation
ETF provides Expertise input to the EUDEL policy dialogue with government, - contributing to HRD analysis, and provision of regular updates on progress on VET and employment.
Key donors in VET
Israel is not a recipient of donors’ assistance. Israel has very dynamic exchange, cooperation and trade with many countries in the European Union and worldwide. Close economic and cultural ties exist with the United States.