Israel and the EU are committed to the progressive reinforcement of their economic, cultural and political ties as foreseen by the Association agreement. In practical terms the EU has committed to help Israel access European policies and programmes, in particular through the TAIEX (Technical Assistance and Information Exchange) and other twinning instruments.
Concerning training and education for better employability, Israel is part of Erasmus+ and has recently become a member of Horizon 2020. ETF support to Israel fits into this strategic framework, as its expertise builds on long experience in various partner countries and a solid knowledge of EU frameworks and tools. Our work aims to facilitate Israeli knowledge of EU policies and their use as a source of inspiration for Israeli national policy.
The setting-up of the Israeli National qualification framework with the support of a twinning is the main area of ETF support in the country.
Economic context and priorities
Israel is one of the most advanced world economies,ranking 18 in the Global Human Capital index. Currently undergoing a very positive development phase marked by a 4% growth rate, the economic context is ripe with innovative start-ups in a wide range of sectors. These are driven by the excellent collaboration between academia and industry. Notwithstanding this positive picture, there are key challenges. The Bank of Israel has recently reported an uncertain level of sustainability in economic growth and a recent decrease in productivity.
Despite strong economic growth for most of the past two decades and a low unemployment rate (7.3% for youth in 2017) the benefits of economic growth in Israel are distributed unevenly. Israel has failed in ensuring equal rights, education and employment to all segments of the society and the Arab municipalities are among the poorest. Educational disparities and demographic differences are the main reasons for the large variance in income and poverty rates among population groups (e.g. the Arabs, the ultra-Orthodox, the Israelis of Ethiopian descent, and many other immigrant youth). The population is growing, with around a quarter of the 8.8 million population aged under 30. One of the biggest challenges facing Israeli families is poverty, as one in five Israeli households and one in three Israeli children live below the poverty line.
Education and labour policies
Israel has a highly skilled labour force with higher than the EU average in educational attainment levels in secondary and tertiary education. Four out of ten students in upper secondary education are enrolled in vocational programmes and the adult participation in training is similar to EU average at around 10%. Differently to many countries in the North and South Mediterranean region, the proportion of those neither in employment, education nor training is contained at 14.9%. Youth are more likely to be inactive than unemployed. Despite lingering budget inequality, significant gaps in the level of education between the Jewish and the Arab education systems are closing and VET could play an important role in combating unemployment especially among the Haredi and Arab communities.
EU support and the ETF
Israel and the EU partnership is based on the Association agreement signed in 2000. The main objective from both sides is to gradually integrate Israel into European policies and programmes building on Israel priorities and its level of development.
As an Agency of the EU, ETF supports this agenda by:
- providing assistance to the setting-up of the national qualification framework within the scope of the EU Twinning and TAIEX instruments.
- strengthening system governance
- improving dialogue and partnership with social partners, namely employers
- developing further capacities of the Manufacturer’s Association and the TU confederation for handling TVET issues
- strengthening the territorial dimension by actively engaging local authorities and social partners
- developing a robust labour market information system for skills needs analysis