Stormy Global Jobs Outlook Underlines Importance of JDC Programs

Reporting on a just-released study by the International Labor Organization (ILO), The New York Times cites this UN agency’s warning that government austerity measures were likely to add 5.1 million people this year to the 197 million worldwide who are currently jobless, while an additional 39 million people have simply dropped out of the global workforce.  

With economic growth stalled five years after the global financial crisis, and Europe’s new recession causing a “spillover effect” in other parts of the world, the ILO emphasized that a dramatic fall in labor force participation rates has “masked the true extent of the jobs crisis.”

The ILO’s staggering numbers underline the importance of JDC’s job training and employment initiatives – efforts we have been developing for over a decade, working in tandem with Jewish communities eager to aid members who’ve lost jobs and small businesses to a variety of economic upheavals.

JDC’s Ariel Job Center model was first pioneered in Argentina in response to that country’s financial implosion over a decade ago; today, it continues to offer job training and placement services, career counseling, and small business development aid. Expert assistance was provided to job programs with similar goals developed by Jewish communities in Mexico, Chile, and other parts of Latin America.

In Europe, Ariel centers have been established by JDC in recent years in the Baltics and in Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania. They are aiding thousands of Jews in these countries whose lives were upended by the global downturn and subsequent economic difficulties.

JDC’s involvement in employment initiatives in Israel has a somewhat different focus, working to fight poverty by targeting that nation’s 750,00 chronically unemployed adults. Through a multiyear partnership with the government, it is particularly promoting employment opportunities and upward mobility for hard-to-absorb immigrants, the ultra-Orthodox, people with disabilities, Israel Arabs, and young adults from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The latter group is especially important in view of the ILO’s spotlight on youth unemployment, finding that more than in previous cycles, the 2008 downturn has “dramatically diminished the labor market prospects for young people,” leaving some 73.8 million currently without jobs worldwide.

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