Let’s get digital, ‘Startup Nation’ tells new immigrants
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Let’s get digital, ‘Startup Nation’ tells new immigrants

Online Hebrew-language courses and job-searching apps aim to make moving to Israel a touch easier

Illustration. New immigrants arrive to Ben Gurion airport in Israel. (Gideon Markowicz/FLASH90)
Illustration. New immigrants arrive to Ben Gurion airport in Israel. (Gideon Markowicz/FLASH90)

Making aliyah — as immigrating to Israel is called — can be a scary process.

Underneath the excitement of finally getting to the promised land, there are so many things that need to be done: packing, saying goodbye, making sure you have a job and a home and a good school for your kids. One tends to think about the big issues, but at times it is the nitty-gritty that can get you down: like standing in lines for documents, not having friendly faces around and feeling frustrated because you don’t understand what you are being told.

Help, however, seems to be on the way, with the so-called startup nation starting to bringing digitalization to the process of aliyah.

“In 2017 we must adopt digitalization for the very traditional world that is called aliyah, as well,” said Gali Shahar, CEO of Gvahim, a nonprofit organization that works to promote the professional and social integration of highly qualified immigrants. “There has been a a step in the right direction, but more can be done to help immigrants via digitalization.”

Getting a high-tech job

Gvahim, which is a subsidiary of the Rashi Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to help the underprivileged in Israel’s geographic and social periphery, has joined forces with ICV, a Ramat Gan-based startup that has created an app that matches new immigrants with job opportunities in Israel’s high-tech companies.

“One of the biggest challenges for immigrants is finding a job, and digitalization can help revolutionize this,” said Shahar.

The app enables users to submit their CV in digital format through a mobile device, while human resources managers can identify suitable applicants quickly and easily. The system shows how well the applicants’ skills match the job requirements, notifies users about opportunities and allows them to track their status with regard to each job application.

As part of the joint program, ICV applicants from abroad looking for a job in Israel will get the support of Gvahim — gaining access to its network of 650 companies and help in understanding the local work culture and demands.

“The cooperation with Gvahim will help bring the Israeli high-tech employment map to the home of thousands of potential immigrants around the world and help them to overcome the main obstacle to their coming to Israel,” said Ron Starinsky, CEO and co-founder of ICV. “The app offers different kinds of jobs, ranging from student positions to first jobs in the high tech world and to management posts.”

More than tech 150 companies in Israel currently use the ICV app to scout for talent, among them Oracle Corp., Gett, Dell-EMC, Nice Systems and Elbit System, according to ICV.

“We are now focusing on the high-tech sphere but hopefully we will be able to expand the digital job search for immigrants to other professions as well,” Gvahim’s Shahar said.

Learning Hebrew with an online ‘ulpan’

MUP – Mobile Ulpan is a Hebrew course that new immigrants can take through Skype and voice chat rooms. It is accessible via web or cellphone, and its methodology is aligned with traditional Hebrew-languages classes for immigrants, known as ulpanim. Via the digital platform, animated video clips include lessons in grammar, syntax and vocabulary; chapters include real-life, everyday scenarios such as meeting a teacher at school, visiting the doctor or opening a bank account. There are interactive exercises as well as real teachers to answer questions online.

MUP is operated by Miriam Treistman, an educator and Hebrew teacher from Brazil who moved to Israel 10 years ago and started the project in order to improve the absorption experience of other immigrants.

Finding a date

See You in Israel is a new initiative operated by Nefesh B’Nefesh that helps Jewish singles from around the world who are thinking about living in Israel, or have already made the move, to connect and form relationships.

Cutting red tape

Instead of struggling with bureaucracy, endless lines and the language barrier, newcomers can take advantage of services that provide web access to government offices such as the Interior Ministry, the Transportation Ministry’s Licensing Department, the National Insurance Institute, and Kupat Holim (HMOs).

The best example of this type of service is the web platform operated by Nefesh B’Nefesh, which allows potential immigrants to reach government offices and municipalities from Israel and abroad. The site provides step-by-step guidance about what to expect in Israel in your first few weeks, what offices to visit and what documents to bring along.

Help for first steps

Another category includes providers of home-related concierge services, from finding an apartment to utility set-up. Tamarim is such a company, started by two immigrants from the US and UK. As part of its services, it arranges for installation of internet, phone and cable, delivery of furniture and appliances, gardening, and dealing with city hall.

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