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New Opportunities Emerging for Job Training and Employment in the Negev

JNF Wire Report

New Opportunities Emerging for Job Training and Employment in the Negev

By: Allison Levine

In Southern Israel, things are looking a lot better for those looking for good jobs and a stable future.

“We want to open the market for new employment possibilities so people can continue to live here in Hura but work for a company based in New York, or really any place,” said David Allon deputy director of the Eastern Negev Regional Cluster, a business partner with Cisco Israel and Jewish National Fund-USA (JNF).

The Bedouin city of Hura, located deep in Israel’s Negev Desert, recently held the grand opening of NetGev, an innovative center providing hi-tech job training, employment assistance, and workspace to nearby residents.

Working In cooperation with the big three organizations and JNF partner Tor HaMidbar, NetGev is launching pilot programs in the cities of Dimona, Arad, and Hura to bring a new wave of job training and employment options to the Negev’s residents.

At the event attended by 30 JNF board of directors from the U.S. and CEO Russell F. Robinson, Zika Abzuk, senior manager of business development at Cisco Israel, shared introductory remarks—via video conference— saying, "We share a common vision and together can be the change to make this area into a ‘smart’ region. The network created through Netgev is an important vehicle and is part of connecting the Negev to the rest of the world."

Also taking part were Hura Mayor Dr. Muhammad Al-Nabari, Director of Digital Local Government of the Ministry of Social Equality Yuval Zanna, and Tor HaMidbar CEO Bella Alexandrov.

“This is about the diversification of employment options available in the Negev,” said Allon. “We need to bridge the gap, not just in terms of distance, but also in terms of providing the right training,” he added. NetGev’s programming will begin offering training courses primarily in the hi-tech sector, providing people the ability to seek out jobs they can do remotely while continuing to live in the Negev.

The Negev makes up 60% of Israel’s landmass, but only 8% of its population lives there, so finding employment is often an impediment when it comes to deciding to live in the Negev or deciding to stay. Many who grow up in the Negev often face limited employment options in region and look elsewhere for employment opportunities, leading to a migration out of the Negev. NetGev is looking to change all that.

In an area of the country dotted with development towns and industrial zones, a job at a hi-tech company may seem like a faraway possibility to many residents.

“We will be starting with introductory courses to help people understand what options are available out there. We’ll need to begin with getting people to visualize themselves in that world, because a kid growing up in Dimona may think that working at a factory is the only option available, and will not see that there are also opportunities at Google,” said Allon.

Mayor Al-Nabari remarked at the ceremony that the launching of this program is “another example of how to share space. Together, we can make good things happen despite the challenges.”

Mayor Al-Nabari also thanked JNF for its support of the program, saying, “I want to make a point to thank Russell and JNF for their support of this innovative program in Hura and the region.”

Tor HaMidbar CEO Alexandrov spoke of the positive changes and effects the program will have on local residents. “NetGev is a game changer in our region and will undoubtedly help Israelis that choose to make the Negev their home,” said Alexandrov. As an operational partner, Tor HaMidbar will direct much of the programming at the NetGev center. “Looking past this launch in Hura, Arad, and Dimona, it is our hope to see a NetGev center in all cities in the Negev and to continue working to build and strengthen our communities.”

Robinson spoke about the successes of the Lauder Employment Center in Be’er Sheva, also a JNF project, which opened its doors in 2015. “NetGev, together with Cisco Israel, is taking this to another level. The key is training and placement,” Robinson said. “There are lots of jobs out there but not the right kind of training and certainly not in this area. This changes everything now – and for the better.”

When asked why it is important for JNF to invest in such a program, particularly in a Bedouin community, Robinson said: “If we are going to bring about real change in Israel, we need to work with all Israelis. This includes the over 200,000 Bedouin citizens that live here as well. We need to work towards strengthening communities and sustainability, and that starts with employment. Whether it is a Jew in Yerucham or a Bedouin in Hura, we need to be here for all Israelis.”

Adam H. Brill,
Director of Communications

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JEWISH NATIONAL FUND (JNF) began in 1901 as a dream and vision to reestablish a homeland in Israel for Jewish people everywhere. Jews the world over collected coins in iconic JNF Blue Boxes, purchasing land and planting trees until ultimately, their dream of a Jewish homeland was a reality. JNF gives all generations of Jews a unique voice in building a prosperous future for the land of Israel and its people.

JNF embodies both heart and action; our work is varied in scope but singular in benefit. We strive to bring an enhanced quality of life to all of Israel’s residents, and translate these advancements to the world beyond. JNF is greening the desert with millions of trees, building thousands of parks, creating new communities and cities for generations of Israelis to call home, bolstering Israel’s water supply, helping develop innovative arid-agriculture techniques, and educating both young and old about the founding and importance of Israel and Zionism.

JNF is a registered 501(c)(3) organization and United Nations NGO, which continuously earns top ratings from charity overseers.

For more information on JNF, call 888-JNF-0099 or visit


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