By Yuri Kozlov
The Art of Camouflage: The Organization That Outlived Its Usefulness
The Employment Bureau (Lishkat Hataasuka) is the government behemoth (with annual budget of about NIS 300 Mln) lacking any clear-defined purpose. It may seem that the major purpose of the Employment Bureau is to assist unemployed citizens to search for jobs and facilitate employment through different mechanisms but nothing is further from truth. In reality the Employment Bureau has two purposes:
a. The Employment Bureau is a camouflage public office with an unlimited power to throttle unemployment benefits and income support (welfare). There are two types of welfare in OECD countries – universal and conditional. Israel has adopted a conditional form of welfare. Bituah Leumi has the authority to decide who is eligible for income support (welfare) and controls the welfare budget but it’s the Employment Bureau that holds the denying power over welfare payments. Thus the Israel government has the best of two worlds – the government can claim that Israel has welfare program where poor have guaranteed minimum for survival and at the same time the government have unrestricted power to deny income support via the Employment Bureau. It’s like Schrodinger’s Cat – we do have welfare and we do not have welfare, simultaneously. This camouflage looks nice in OECD stats, the purpose achieved.
b. The second purpose is political influence on selective electorate communities. That’s where the Employment Bureau excels – by fine tuning its policies depending on political aims of the day. For example, if the government wants for some reason to favor ultra-Orthodox or Arab population sector or any other community, the The Employment Bureau releases the flow of funds.
The Myth of Income Support
While the Employment Bureau policy on unemployment benefits is pretty lax, the income support is a myth. Clerks of the Employment Bureau have perfected the “job offer you can’t refuse” policy to the state of art by issuing arbitrary refusals without any consideration, by default.
“Within the maze of bureaucratic intricacies that characterize the procedures of Lishkat HaTaasuka, the promise of income support for eligible claimants stands as a distant and often unattainable goal. The system, marred by its default denial approach and obscured procedures, presents insurmountable hurdles for individuals seeking essential income support.” Source: The Grim Reality of Income Support Challenges in Lishkat HaTaasuka
As it happens in purposeless organizations the Employment Bureau developed some surrogate of purpose around “job offer you can’t refuse” policy, some toxic code of behavior, intimidation patterns and Kafkaesque bureaucratic procedures.
The “job offer you can’t refuse” policy has a corrupting effect on both the Employment Bureau and employers working with the Employment Bureau. This policy created an artificial market of shady and greedy manpower contractors treating income support claimants as a slave workforce. The Employment Bureau created a get-rich-quick scheme for unscrupulous manpower operators, mainly in cleaning and caregiver market segments. These contractors are thriving on endless supply of slaves from the Employment Bureau by cheating workers simply because they can get away with it. Slaves do not complain, slaves have no negotiating power, slaves have no rights. The income support claimants are caught in a vicious circle of choice between hunger, homelessness, suicide or rightless job that does not provide even subsistence level. The Employment Bureau settled into easy and convenient routine of “job offer you can’t refuse” policy, no need to match jobs and qualifications, fast processing speed, no CV, practically no interview, just take them all. Just as slavery the “job offer you can’t refuse” policy should be abolished in the civilized society.
The officials of the Employment Bureau have developed a moral insensitivity to income support claimants they supposed to serve, and instead work full time as recruiting agents for shady manpower contractors. Personal connections between officials of Employment Bureau and manpower contractors have evolved, creating a corrupt atmosphere of collusion between government workers and practically unregulated private sector. Mechanisms have evolved of suppressing out-of-line slaves into submission: arbitrary refusals, vast bureaucratic power abuse, framing up income support claimant for refusal by agreement between Employment Bureau job coordinator and employer. In its current form the Employment Bureau totally lost focus and moral compass about where its loyalties lie, people in distress or shady contractors, the latter being clearly the benefactors. Compassion has been replaced by indifference, indifference has been replaced by intimidation, intimidation evolved into sadism.
The Myth of Job Matching
“You will not find a qualified job in an established company or in high-tech through Lishkat Hataasuka. No matter how highly educated or qualified you are, Lishkat Hataasuka has only shitty jobs to offer, like cleaning or laundry sorting. This is the reality.” Eyal Abraham Nun, Lawyer, Chairman of Appeal Committee of Lishkat Hataasuka Haifa, loose quote from apppeal hearing.
In my capacity as a market researcher I have extensively covered HR market. Over the years I have regularly attended the Israel Human Resources Conference, the leading and largest human resources convention in Israel, held annually at Expo Tel Aviv. I have interviewed hundreds of HR managers from different sectors of Israeli economy. The vast majority of them do not work with the Employment Bureau. Job applications from the Employment Bureau go straight to garbage bin. Neither quality of workforce, nor quality of the Employment Bureau personnel nor screening mechanism of the Employment Bureau, nor its job search database stand their ground in the very competitive job search market. In other words the job database of the Employment Bureau is a garbage collection of hourly minimum wage jobs rejected by society. These jobs actually represent a relatively small segment of Israeli labor market.
If you are looking for qualified job, the Employment Bureau database has not much to offer. Applications sent through the Employment Bureau database have near-zero response rate. If you are looking for unqualified job, you would still be better off by avoiding the Employment Bureau database. You would be able to negotiate better employment terms outside of the Employment Bureau system. Manpower companies working with the Employment Bureau are spoiled beyond repair, the courtesy of “job offer you can’t refuse” policy, they know you are cornered and desperate.
The Employment Bureau (Lishkat Hataasuka) is the obsolete government organization serving no real purpose with the annual budget about NIS 300 Mln in 2023, about 40% of this budget spent on its personnel salary. Nobody will notice its absence (besides a bunch of shady manpower companies feeding from steady supply of slaves dispatched by Employment Bureau) if the Employment Bureau closes its doors tomorrow. Market forces will take over and absorb those looking for jobs. About 50% of income support claimants (the total number of income support claimants is about 50,000 slightly changing from month to month) are in the age category older than 55, Bituah Leumi has all the tools to deal with this category of population with minor adjustments of benefit thresholds and terms, as well as some introduction of universal welfare model for specific groups of vulnerable population. Unemployment benefits should not be conditional at all for the benefit period.