The Siraj NGO’s programs aim to serve young Bedouins at all levels of the pipeline toward employment in hi-tech:
Programs for Underemployed Professionals, College, and University Graduates
Siraj exists to add Bedouin professionals to the hi-tech industry. As such, our primary effort is to identify the few candidates who possess the appropriate educational background but never joined the industry. We provide them with the enrichment and hands-on exposure to succeed. While we do offer some assistance with job placement, our primary role is to fill the experiential education gap that Bedouin candidates exhibit in comparison to their Jewish peers. We do this through technological meetups that directly expose Bedouin professionals to the industry, as well as through our On-the-Job Training Program.
On-the-Job Training Program (OJT)
Siraj recruits high-performing Bedouin graduates to participate in a three-month training guided by an expert tech training consultant. Hosted by our daughter company Siraj Technologies, the OJT Program trains participants in software development with a particular focus on the company’s technologies, as well as soft skills relating to a hi-tech workplace, such as managing a heavy workload, project development, and teamwork. Participants receive a stipend to cover living costs as they commit time to develop their career in hi-tech. Upon program completion we work to place graduates at appropriate jobs, either at Siraj Technologies or elsewhere.
Read about our second OJT cohort in our 2019 Year-End Update.
Programs for College and University Students
To address the high drop-out rate of Bedouin students from colleges and universities, Siraj supports students enrolled in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects through our Mentoring Program. First-year students are paired with upper-class colleagues, who support their acclimation to the academic environment. Third- and fourth-year students are paired with mentors from the hi-tech industry, who provide guidance as they transition from student to graduate and young professional. This program is held in partnership with Tsofen, who has over 5 years of experience leading such programs.
Programs for High School Students
The pipeline of Bedouin participation in hi-tech is significantly slowed by the lack of STEM studies in high school – STEM is not viewed as important since hi-tech is not perceived as a viable career option. It is therefore crucial to expose Bedouin high school students to the possibilities of a career in tech, so they can make academic choices accordingly. To address this, Siraj offers a range of programs aimed at exposing Bedouin high school students to the tech industry first-hand. For many, their engagement with Siraj is their first meeting with a hi-tech engineer, company, or environment.
Intro to Hi-tech
The Siraj Technologies team hosts groups of high school students at their officers in Be’er Sheva, where students hear from an engineer or a visiting speaker about their career path, challenges they have faced along the way, and the choices they have made. In 2019 we hosted over 800 students. We also organize visits of high school classes to hi-tech companies.
Siraj held the Negev’s first Hackathon for Bedouin teens in April 2019. The inaugural event convened fifty 10th and 11th graders who competed in groups to develop applications, with creative inventions including apps to help people with poor vision send text messages, calculate a household’s electricity usage, borrow second-hand books, and order meals for children in orphanages. Students were guided by technological mentors including their teachers (who had been trained by Siraj prior to the event) and engineers from Siraj Technologies. Our stellar panel of judges included leaders from medicine, academia, education, and engineers from DELL EMC.
Programs for the Bedouin Community
Siraj is a key player in the growth of a hi-tech ecosystem in the Negev. We host meetups in partnership with leading tech companies like Apple, Google, and Dell EMC. Our meetups have been attended by hundreds of Bedouin young people, and aim to bring quality, technology-focused talks to the Bedouin community, allowing Bedouin youth to sense what a career in tech might look like. Importantly, meetups are also open to and attended by community leaders, parents, and teachers – all of whom may also be unfamiliar with hi-tech.
As an example, in late 2019, Siraj held a high-profile meeting with Dr. Ami Appelbaum, Head of the Israel Innovation Authority, and a group of 20 leaders from the Bedouin community to acquaint them with the needs of the industry and the opportunity that it provides.