In Beersheva, a decade makes a difference


Ten years ago, the idea that leading corporations and tech companies would actively grow business opportunities in the Negev Desert would have sounded like a fantasy. No longer.

In November, for the second year in a row, more than 40 employment organizations and 180 human resources teams came together for the Negev Human Resources Conference in Beersheva, Israel. The conference was a medium to facilitate and strengthen connections between organizations that promote employment in the Negev and human-resource managers, business organizations, industries and leading employers.

Organized and sponsored by the Lauder Employment Center, Jewish National Fund-USA (JNF-USA), Eretz-Ir, the Manufacturers Association of Israel and Menora Insurance Group, the YES Planet Be’er Sheva Cineplex buzzed with people networking to make solid, quality job placements happen in Israel’s southern region.

“Deep, unique connections like these happen only here in the Negev,” Pnina Abutbul, director of Employer Relations at Eretz-Ir, told the crowd.

The conference focused on employment management in a multigenerational era, and encouraged discussion of cross-cultural and cross-sector employment opportunities and challenges.

Russell Robinson, CEO of JNF-USA, addressed participants, joined by Bruce K. Gould of Orlando, FL, its president-elect. For Robinson, “It’s unbelievable … that the discussion today is about how to employ different generations into the employment sector [in the Negev]. We started working in Beersheva 20 years ago, and this conference could never have happened then.”

He pointed to the growth and development in the region, which is encouraging younger generations to stay, giving stability to the older generations and increasing quality of life.

One employment organization present was Beersheva’s Olim Department, which focuses on new immigrants to Israel. Elena Linkovsky, employment director, explained, “We provide support in all areas of life for new immigrants choosing to settle in Beersheva. They are a part of the rich human capital which contributes to the growth of the region, and we want them to stay and develop roots here.”

One challenge for immigrants is finding work that allows them to acclimate and use their international perspective and skills set.

“Events of this kind create an encounter between the two sides of the employment equation — the job-seekers and the employers,” said Linkovsky. “The discourse created here … makes it possible to bring about change and to affect the entire employment world of the Negev. It is helping us greatly improve the quality of life for those we serve,” she said.

Ibrahim Krinawi, director of professional internships at Ri’an Employment Centers, noted, “It’s so important for me to be here and look for new partners ... I have a lot of work waiting for me as soon as we are done.”

That’s because the real work begins after the conference ends, with employment organizations and potential employers following up.

With the help of organizations like Jewish National Fund-USA and Eretz-Ir, the explosion of Israel’s newest and most innovative tech sectors in the Negev are giving the next generation the chance to be a part of a social revolution that will shape Israel’s economy for years to come.