Integration of Arab Israeli Pharmacists into the Labor Market
Author: Noah Lewin-Epstein, Alexandra Kalev, Erez Marantz, Shimrit Slonim Policy Research

This policy paper attempts to examine the mechanisms that both facilitate and hinder the employment of educated Arab Israelis by Jewish employers.

This policy paper attempts to examine the mechanisms that both facilitate and hinder the employment of educated Arab Israelis by Jewish employers. The study focuses specifically on pharmacists. The past decade has seen a growth in the number of Arab Israelis entering this profession – a large share of whom are employed in businesses that are owned or managed by Jews. On the basis of in-depth interviews with Jewish and Arab Israeli pharmacists and with the managers of pharmacies, the paper compares their work experiences along their career paths, as well as their perceptions of differences between the groups. The study points to the complexities of the professional integration process for Arab Israelis. On the one hand, the opening of higher education opportunities in Jordan –  which helps Arab Israelis overcome rigorous entrance requirements to study pharmacy in Israel – allows Arab Israelis to gain a professional education. There has also been a rise in the willingness of Jewish employers to hire them. On the other hand, studying in Jordan is less respected among Jewish employers than studying in Israel, and this makes it harder for Arab Israelis to find internships and employment. In addition, many employers are hesitant to hire them due to their lack of experience in the local market. In light of this, seeking internships and employment takes longer for Arab Israeli pharmacists than for their Jewish counterparts, and many find that they have to compromise on their place of employment and salary. These difficulties are intensified due to the lack of professional contacts, although Arab Israeli pharmacists who have studied in Israel also experience difficulties in finding internships and employment. In addition, those interviewed report instances of discrimination. For instance, candidates who wear a hijab reported prejudice on the part of Jewish customers, and difficulties stemming from a lack of an organizational policy that recognizes their culture and religion. The study also found that working together contributes to a positive change of attitudes by Jews towards Arab Israelis. In light of the findings, the paper recommends policy steps that can contribute to the integration of Arab Israelis into the pharmacist job market, such as specialized training and consideration for Muslim holidays.