Cycle of Employment program: Wearing you out until you stop asking for your benefit
Rabbi Idit Lev is back with unfortunate findings from the hearing of the Subcommittee on the Cycle of Employment Program, or as it used to be known, the Wisconsin Plan. Read on to find outabout what goes on behind closed doors in government ministries, and affects all of our lives outside of them.
IMAGE: Picture taken from Jonathan Ben Efrat and Yishai Golan’s film Wisconsin.
By: Rabbi Idit Lev
The Finance Ministry has been attempting to bring back the Wisconsin Plan since it was cancelled, and now we find this bill up for discussion by the Committee. The Committee sent various inquiries to the Finance Ministry, and as far as I know has not yet received a response. The Cycle of Employment Program was revealed by surprise via a labor dispute of the Committee. Some claim that it is not the Wisconsin Plan, and that there’s no room for comparison between them.
We are not convinced. We fid the comparison between the Wisconsin Plan and the Cycle of Employment Program relevant for the following reasons:
This program redirects to a private company those who are required to present themselves in the Employment Service office in order to receive a minimal subsistence benefit. The private company’s employees will be able to recommend revoking the person’s benefit.
The program requires reporting in person three times a week, without support services (such as transportation reimbursements or babysitting), and the criteria for revoking a person’s eligibility are vague. Therefore we see this program as ruling the lives of those who participate in it, rather than allowing them the ability to find work. We can already identify different populations which will find it extremely difficult to meet the program’s conditions, and as a result will withdraw from the program and therefore have their benefits revoked.
There is no significant vocational training in the Cycle of Employment program.
The Israeli Employment Service has had its funding dried up for many years; although this program was presented by the Finance Ministry as a budgetary surge of eight million shekels for the Employment Service, in reality, the majority of funding goes to a private company.
The study control group for the program will be people who report in person to the Employment Service and receive no aid other than meetings with a placement coordinator. Each placement coordinator works with at least 500 people simultaneously (and some of them with up to 800 people simultaneously). The program will not be compared to people enrolled in any other programs.
For all of the reasons listed above and more, we believe that this program is unacceptable, and is a variation of the Wisconsin Plan.
This program can be put into effect without legislation, and in fact, the Employment Service can begin putting it into effect today. However, it is on hold at the request of the Knesset. Nevertheless, the Director of the Employment Service requests that the hearings be speedy, as all the preparations have already been made, and my guess is that the computers have been bought, and the “coaches” – employees of the private company – are sitting at home, collecting a paycheck without the program operating. Let me remind you that this same director did not bother passing on written material about the program to the Committee until yesterday.
So what have we learned about the background and workings of the program?
The program was formulated with Tevet and Strive, and is based on a program which has been tried in thirty countries around the world. People from the Employment Service were also consulted with (MK Rosenthal requested this information).
The program workers will be employed by a private company, Yeadim.
The program is intended for people who are new recipients of income support benefits, and apparently will not include recipients of income supplements (working people who receive a benefit because their salary is very low).
The program will be operated by “coaches” though it’s not clear what that means and how these coaches are trained. It has been said that these are people who have studied group facilitation, passed an evaluation and are suitable for work with the population of income support benefit recipients.
The first month is a kind of assessment of the motivation level of the participants. The people assessed to be highly motivated will go to a job seeking workshop. Those who are assessed to be poorly motivated will go to a change workshop. The change workshop is a preparation for the process of job seeking. (It is not clear what gives the coach the ability to make this assessment).
The program: Workshop will be held during months 2-4, afterward there is a three month interval without workshops, weekly in-person reporting to a clerk in an increased effort to make a placement, and then if this does not succeed, returning to two-three months of guided job seeking. If this also does not succeed, they will return to a regular pattern of in-person reporting.
The program includes three weekly meetings of around two hours each, for a total of five-six hours. One of the meetings is with a placement coordinator from the Employment Service.
The program has a budget of eight million NIS for one trial year. The budget is for coach salaries, computer purchases and workshop supplies.
There will be thirty coaches in total.
The difference between the first and second stage is one month.
The coach has no access to information about the job seeker other than the information s/he acquires him/herself.
The payment to the private company is not per placement.
The assessment of success will be based on the difference the program makes: will people successfully integrate into the workforce or slide into deeper unemployment?
The definition of “unable to work” will remain as it is today, based on a meeting with an Employment Service doctor. (I know that people see a committee which has more than one person).
There are no program support services, and it’s quite clear that absences will be a reason for revoking a person’s benefit, so this can lead to the revocation of benefits.
The company implementing the program is Yeadim, which won a tender for workshops for the Employment Service a year ago.
There will be a clerk in each office who will be responsible for the program.
What will be examined in the accompanying research? Many topics including preventing people from becoming deeply unemployed, whether the program makes people more proactive, preventing dependence on benefits.
The program is meant to operate in parallel to the Wisconsin Plan, which stands as a separate bill before the Committee.
It has been promised that the Member of Knesset (and apparently also government ministries) will receive from the Employment Service a written description of the program by today, and the Finance Ministry will consider what it can provide.
Director Boaz Hirsch said that he cancelled employee incentive pay from the revocation of benefits and that there are no longer benefit revocation targets at the Employment Service. Today there are 500 to 600 refusals per month throughout the country, amongst all populations.
The Finance Ministry representative said in the Committee, in my paraphrasing: “Pass Wisconsin because it’s very important. And here, this program won’t let you claim any more that we drain the Employment Service’s funding as they were given eight million shekels! And this program is one of four programs which were agreed upon with the Employment Service.”
In addition, the Finance Ministry understood that a track for individuals who are unable to work must be established, but they will only do so if there is Wisconsin.
And take note – this funding is NOT being given to the Employment Service, but to a private company! Micky Rosenthal tried to convince the Finance Ministry representative to directly employ the coaches and that then the Committee would approve the program. The Finance Ministry representative refused to consider it.
The Knesset Research and Information Center will be asked to prepare a mapping document of all the employment programs with government funding today.
We will continue to follow developments and update you.
More information on the Wisconsin Plan and the Cycle of Employment program:
Knesset Stops Privatization of Employment Services
The Employment Circles program (AKA the Wisconsin Plan)