A Listening Ear Helps Israelis Find Work and Direction
by: Laurina Driesse, ICEJ Staff
ICEJ AID is helping Israelis find work by supporting an employment call center, which reaches out to those in desperate need of work.
We seek to help Israelis suffering setbacks in life, ensuring they have a place to turn. One way we are offering them renewed hope is by supporting an employment call center, which reaches out to those in desperate need of advice and direction.
As Israel endured several long coronavirus lockdowns over recent years, many small businesses had to let go of staff, and thousands of Israelis suddenly found themselves jobless or on extended furlough with little compensation.
The ensuing crisis meant the employment call center went from 1,500 calls annually pre-pandemic to 8,700 calls for help last year alone. As a result, the call center urgently needed to expand its technology equipment, volunteer base, and staff training to handle the sheer volume of desperate callers.
“Knowing we could offer hope and practical help to a lot of people in crisis, we did not hesitate to come alongside the call center to allow them to make the necessary upgrades to their system,” remarked Nicole Yoder, ICEJ’s Vice President for AID and Aliyah.
With help from 40 trained volunteers, 45 percent of the callers received advice and referrals to other job placement programs, vocational training, aid assistance, and information about their employment rights. Another 25 percent of the callers received personalized advice and assistance to face specific employment hardships. An additional 9 percent received several weeks of coaching aimed at bringing about a meaningful employment change, while 21 percent of callers participated in live Zoom sessions for guidance on employment-related topics, like job market trends and job-hunting tools.
Yael Biton* was one of these desperate callers. She contacted the call center in April 2021 after being fired from her company because of the pandemic. Living in a small town in northern Israel, she found few openings in her area, so she reached out to the center in desperation.
Zehava, a newly trained volunteer, became Yael’s listening ear, and the two quickly formed a bond. Zehava helped Yael rethink her career path, identify her strengths and weaknesses, re-write her CV, and prepare for job interviews. Yael decided to switch job sectors during this process and began a focused search. She soon found work as a coordinator at an overnight camp for sick and special needs children.
“Zehava’s help was invaluable and contributed greatly to my success in finding this job,” said Yael. “She helped me through a difficult period, boosted my morale, and strengthened me in all aspects of the job-hunting process.”
More positive testimonies from Israelis with renewed hope continue to flood the call center.
“I wasn’t alone in the job-hunting process,” said one caller. “The mentoring I received from my volunteer coach boosted my morale and helped me feel [like] I could move forward. My mentor gave me tips, shared his rich professional experience, and helped me pinpoint my search.”
“Just the fact that I had someone to talk to helped a lot,” stated another caller. “It helped me get my thoughts straight, focus, and motivate myself to action.”
Based on a recent call center survey, we can report that:
- 90 percent of callers became more focused in their search due to the coaching they received.
- 89 percent reported coping better emotionally with the job-hunting process.
- 88 percent gained relevant knowledge about the job market.
- 81 percent said they gained job-hunting skills.
- 19 percent reported finding work after receiving help from their assigned volunteer.
*Name changed to protect privacy.
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