Jun 11, 2017  By Tamar Gil  Category: Blueprint Negev,

How to entice employees to Israel's Negev? A brainstorm in the desert

Tor HaMidbar

Think of high-quality HR, and maybe a large high-tech company or fancy corporate business come to mind. It’s unlikely you'll think of a midsize chemical company in Southern Israel. But Hugo Speyer, HR director at Chemada on the Gaza border, along with dozens of other human-resource professionals, is working to change that. 

That desire for change took the spotlight recently, as history was made in the Negev. More than 150 senior HR personnel and representatives from more than two dozen employment agencies came together for the Negev’s first ever conference for human-resource professionals May 22. Organized by The Lauder Employment Center-Tor HaMidbar and the Southern Manufacturers Union, the conference offered a unique opportunity to connect the main players in Negev employment, and fostered a discussion on how to best show job seekers the desirability of jobs in the Negev.   

JNF supporters and staff (including CEO Russell Robinson, 
second from right) at the Lauder Center event. 
Founded in 2015, The Lauder Employment Center is operated by Tor HaMidbar, an NGO focused on developing Israel's periphery, and has served as JNF’s arm on the ground for creating innovative employment solutions to draw new residents to the Negev. 

Speyer of Chemada was inspired by the conference.  He credits the Lauder Center for the new connections he’s made professionally and personally.  

"I always have someone to turn to for advice or even to bounce ideas," he says. Speyer joined the Lauder Center’s network of HR professionals over half a year ago and regularly attends its workshops and presentations for professional development.

At the conference, Russell Robinson, CEO of JNF, highlighted the important role those in attendance must play in developing the Negev. Just as Speyer proudly represents his community in the Negev, where he happily lives with his family of four, it's essential residents across Israel know these cities aren't only great places to work, but great places to live

Robinson challenged employers to sell their cities along with their companies when meeting with job candidates. To successfully bring 500,000 new residents to the Negev in coming years, as JNF aspires through its Blueprint Negev initiative, employers must speak of local triumphs, and explain how wonderful their cities are -- whether Be’er Sheva, Yerucham, Dimona, or Arad.

A fundamental element of bringing new people to the Negev is finding them quality jobs and changing the conversation about the area. We must show Israel, and indeed the world, that great opportunities exist outside of the center of the country.  As such, the largest ever conference on Negev employment was a huge success, not only for employers in the South but also for the future of the Negev as a whole. So the next time you think about quality HR, the Negev is what should come to mind.