The new youth center aims to improve the field of youth employment
Teens are very vulnerable employees. As newcomers to the workforce, they often aren’t aware of all of their rights as employees and how they deserve to be treated. Additionally, teens often seek a job in order to save money for a short-term goal and are less likely to focus on their long term or more abstract benefits, such as pension and workers comp. This leaves them vulnerable to exploitation and mistreatment at the hands of their employers.
In order to protect and advance the working rights of teens, HaNoar HaOved, the youth movement associated with Dror Israel, has teamed up with the Rishon LeTzion municipality to open a new youth center. The center has a clear goal- to improve the working conditions of teens in Rishon LeTzion. In order to do this, the center educates teens about their rights in the workforce, as well as providing them with practical skills to gain more secure employment and helping to connect them to fair employers.
The Avoda+ center offers vocational training tracks. The training tracks provide teens with skills and work experience along with professional connections. The training aims to prepare teens for jobs which require skilled employees, helping to gain them more job stability.
The center is currently offering two training courses- one in New Media and one in household repairs and renovation.
In the New Media training track, in addition to completing a social media management and graphic design course, the teens work closely with the social media team of Rishon’s LeTzion city hall. Throughout the summer, they take shifts managing the social media accounts of some of the city hall departments.
Teens in the household repairs and renovation track work closely with local contractors, gaining priceless on-the-job training and connections.
In the upcoming year, the center has plans to mentor teens in developing social ventures, such as an educational birthday party planning company. The center’s staff will oversee the process, but the teens will be in the driver’s seat- planning, building, and operating the company, which will strive to make sure that birthday parties across the city are a fun, accessible and safe space for everyone.
One of the Dror Israel educators at Avoda+, Gal, stressed the importance of educating and advocating for teens in the work place. She recently visited a local mall to talk to teens who worked there and was shocked at what she learned. “I spoke to a girl working at a crepe stand. While she is standing in front of the blazing hot griddle, she's telling me that her boss pays her in cash, and only after she bugs him about it. She tells me that she’s saving up for driving lessons and she’s so happy to have this job. I can barely focus on what she’s saying. I have to ask her- “Have you ever been burnt on the griddle? Have you signed an employment contract that guarantees you’re paid worker’s comp?” The girl laughs and shows me her arms, covered in scorch marks. She tells me that she doesn’t remember signing anything, and that whenever she has been burnt badly, her boss was dismissive. She was just focused on saving up and didn’t know that she deserves better conditions.”
In addition to offering programming for teens, educators from the center reach out to teachers, parents, and local employers to help them to protect the working rights of teens. The center recently hosted an employment fair where they connected teens with employers who had pledged to protect the rights of their teen employees. In the event that a teen is exploited in the workplace, the center’s staff are also able to guide them through the legal process of filing a complaint.
The Avoda+ center takes a multi-pronged educational approach to ensure that Rishon LeTzion’s teens will be protected in the workplace. Through education, training, advocacy and support, the center is already making a difference in the lives of hundreds of teens.