Breaking Down Barriers For Israelis With Disabilities

January 13, 2015


When it came to his job search, Chai Bardogo was hitting a brick wall.

Though he had graduated with a degree in economics and business administration and was a veteran of the Israel Defense Forces, all of the 32-year-old’s job interviews were unsuccessful.

For Chai, who has had cerebral palsy since birth, everything changed when he joined JDC’s RampUp program in Migdal HaEmek, a small city in northern Israel, about a half-hour southeast of Haifa.

Established in 2013, RampUp works to promote and advance the integration of people with disabilities into the work force. Currently, some 110,000 young Israelis with disabilities do not work, and 60 percent of those who do wish to enter the workforce fail to find a job.

At employment centers across Israel, RampUp staff are trained to provide assistance to clients with disabilities and to liaise with employers to help create positive working environments for job seekers with special needs

RampUp staff helped Chai improve his interview skills, and when a teller position opened at a local branch, they worked with the bank’s human resources staff to make the interview process more accessible to Chai.

That meant making the interview one-on-one, instead of in a group, and giving Chai extended time to answer a pre-employment questionnaire.

Now working at that bank as a teller, Chai said he’s incredibly grateful for the boost RampUp gave him.

“I know I work slower than my colleagues, but I’m determined to sharpen my skills and improve my performance,” he said. “And just last week, I was offered a permanent position at my bank.”

RampUp is one of many critical interventions developed by JDC’s TEVET employment partnership with the Government of Israel to integrate 700,000 chronically jobless Israelis into the workforce, and its Israel Unlimited partnership with the Israeli government and the Ruderman Family Foundation to promote the inclusion of the country’s one million adults with disabilities in all aspects of Israeli society.

RampUp currently works in the northern Israeli cities of Karmiel, Acre, Migdal HaEmek, Tiberias, and Yokneam.

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