Education and Employment Among Young Arab Israelis
Author: Hadas Fuchs Policy Research

The Taub Center gratefully acknowledges The Diane P. and Guilford Glazer Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles for its generous support of this project.

In recent years there have been major changes in education and employment trends in the Arab Israeli society. The chapter examines these trends by sub-group within the sector and by gender, and finds that there have been substantial improvements in post-secondary and higher education – though there are large gaps between the various sub-groups.

The rate of qualifying for a bagrut (matriculation) certificate rose significantly

The rate of those entitled to a bagrut certificate increased substantially between 1999 and 2013 but, while bagrut achievements by Arab Israeli women are approaching those of Jewish women, the increase among Arab Israeli men was more moderate.

  • It seems that a major factor contributing to educational gaps between Jews and Arab Israelis is the lower socioeconomic status of the Arab Israeli population. When controlling for socioeconomic backgrounds, the matriculation (bagrut) rates among all sub-groups of Arab Israeli women are higher than (or equal to) those among Jewish women. Among men there are still gaps favoring Jewish men – and these gaps have increased over the past decade.
  • A high percentage of Arab Israelis qualifying for a matriculation certificate studied in a scientific-engineering track. The differences between Jewish and Arab Israelis are particularly prominent among women: 39% of Jewish women who qualified for a matriculation certificate in 2013 studied in scientific-engineering tracks, as compared with 71% of Bedouin women and 84% of Christian women, and in the Arab Israeli sector there is a female majority in most scientific-engineering tracks.

Higher education – a large share of women pursue occupations in the fields of health and education

  • The share of those pursuing higher education has increased greatly among Arab Israeli women, particularly among Bedouin and Druze women – an increase of nearly 50% between 2008 and 2013. Among men the improvement was much smaller, although the data do not include Arab Israeli men pursuing an academic degree abroad.
  • Arab Israeli women (especially Muslims and Bedouins) still pursue occupations in the education field at very high rates – a field that facilitates working within their localities. This trend may lead to employment difficulties: 59% of those who applied to teach in the Arab school system did not receive placements in the 2013-2014 school year. If there is not a significant drop in the share of female students studying for a teaching certificate, this percentage is likely to increase as the percentage of female Arab Israeli graduates increases.
  • As in the past, many Arab Israeli men pursue academic studies in health-related fields (both in Israel and abroad), but there has also been an increase in the share pursuing engineering and computer science degrees – which may open the door to new fields of employment.
  • The average psychometric exam score of Arab Israelis is lower than the average score among Jews. It seems that a larger portion of Arab Israelis who take the exam do not reach the threshold required to be admitted into various study programs in academic institutions, as about half of Arab Israeli men who took the psychometric exam did not go on to study in higher education in Israel (although some studied abroad).

Higher Ed EN (3)

How much do Arab Israelis earn in comparison to Jews?

  • Wage gaps between Jews and Arab Israelis are low among graduates with degrees in the fields of health and education, but are large among those who studied engineering, computer science, business administration and management. In the fields of engineering and computer science, high wage gaps stem largely from differences in the sectors in which the graduates of these fields are employed: Jewish academics tend to be employed in more profitable industries (for example, 28% of Jewish graduates are employed in programming, compared with 16% of Arab Israeli graduates).

What are the differences between the different sub-groups?

The Christian population has the highest achievements on all indices: bagrut exams, the share of the population with an academic degree and fields of employment, and the gaps between the Christian and Jewish populations have been decreasing over time. Among the Muslim population, which is the largest sub-group, there were general improvements on educational indices, gaps favoring women over men, and a marked tendency to pursue degrees in the fields of health and education. The achievements of the Druze population are mixed: they have particularly high matriculation rates and their employment rates are high as well. On the other hand, the fields in which they are employed are limited and a high percentage of those with a degree are employed in the defense system. The Bedouin population has the lowest achievements on all indices, despite a significant improvement among women. The vast majority of Bedouins with an academic degree work in education.

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