itworks: Dismantling Access Barriers to the High-Tech Industry in Israel

Based in Netanya, Israel, itworks was created in 2006 after its founder Ifat Baron noticed the systemic problem that highly-qualified individuals from diverse communities lacked access to high-level positions in Israel's tech industry. Baron established itworks to narrow these employment gaps and increase diversity in Israel's high-tech sector.

itworks provides advanced personnel placement services along with training courses for both potential employees and employers. Since its inception, itworks has supported over 5,000 trainees with its services. The organization is committed to working with people from all cultures and backgrounds, including the Arab community, the Jewish ultra-Orthodox sector, single mothers, individuals with special needs, and more. Vocational training programs put a strong focus on personal, occupational, and professional skill development to support trainees in successfully integrating into top-level positions in Israel's tech sectors. Employer-focused trainings include workshops, lectures, and HR seminars that support companies in their diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, such as training in multi-cultural interviewing.

NGOsource's Role

itworks initially went through the equivalency determination (ED) process with NGOsource in 2015 after one of its funders requested its certificate. Since then, itworks' ED has been renewed several times, including by an additional funder.

According to Robin Arnon, itworks' partnerships director, going through the ED process gave the organization more legitimacy with donors by allowing it to demonstrate due diligence. Being able to point to its ED helped itworks to establish an immediate level of trust with U.S.-based donors, as the ED proved that itworks had established that it was equivalent to a U.S.-based 501(c)3 organization. The ED application process also allowed itworks to review its operations and ensure that they were conducted according to U.S. standards.

NGOs like itworks benefit from the credibility that NGOsource's legal analysis provides. U.S.-based funders that become NGOsource members can access itworks' certification - and certifications of all NGOs with valid EDs - immediately for as little as $250.

Participants in one of itworks’ courses hold up certificates of completion.

ED in Action

The funding that itworks receives from its donors enables it to do its work, which is more important now than ever due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Unemployment in Israel has skyrocketed to over 20 percent over the past several months, with marginalized communities being affected the most. 30 percent more women than men have been laid off, and the unemployment rate for young adults in the Arab community has increased to over 40 percent. The number of open positions has dropped considerably, and many companies are now hiring directly through their Human Resources departments instead of partnering with companies that specialize in hiring marginalized communities.

While job openings have declined, many high-tech companies that partner with itworks are still committed to diversity and continue to work with the organization.

People need to get back to work quickly, and itworks has modified its programming to meet these new needs. The NGO moved a number of its courses online, including a Python programming course for Arab engineers and a social media and digital marketing course for single mothers. By expanding its online course options, itworks has been able to increase the number of trainees per course and reach even more individuals who might not have been able to access in-person trainings. itworks plans to continue to adapt and increase the number of its online course offerings moving forward.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created an even greater need for marginalized communities in Israel to have access to secure and dignified employment. itworks continues to rise to the challenge with flexible programming and its dedication to closing the unemployment gap in Israel. To learn more about itworks, please visit its website.

Top photo: Participants in itworks’ ExcelHT course display certificates of completion.

Photos used with permission from itworks © 2020.