“BridgeTech” is gap year training program for academically exceptional Arab Bedouin youth in the fields of hi-tech and industry. Serving as a “bridge” between high school and university, the program was founded to increase the low percentages of Arab Bedouin young people participating in the emerging hi-tech and industrial sectors of the Negev.
The project is a base and an anchor for the emergence of a cadre of young leaders from Arab Bedouin society in the two sectors. The program is based in Beersheva as a regional project recruiting graduates from both recognized and unrecognized Arab Bedouin communities throughout the Negev. Each annual cohort includes 50 young men and women.
The program takes place over a 12-month period. Participants study mathematics, professional Hebrew, English, logistics and computer programming, among other subjects. They also take preparation courses for the psychometric exam and receive academic counseling to clarify their goals for university. Leadership development and community involvement are also important components of the program, as participants tutor and mentor students in local schools.
There are two distinct program tracks:
hi-tech and industry (such as manufacturing and logistics). In addition to their regular program of study and tutoring, participants attend workshops focused on developing life skills and visit hi-tech and industrial companies where they may want to work in the future. During the second hal of the period, on one day each week they participate in mini-internships. Upon successful program completion, graduates are eligible to receive academic scholarships, support and mentoring up to university graduation and, subsequently, assistance with job placement.
The program was established in partnership with the Association of Community Centers (ACC) and its Excellence Program for Bedouin Youth The Steering Committee includes representatives from the ACC, the Rayan Center, the Rawad Association, the Idan HaNegev Industrial Park, the Amal Network and various Negev-based hi-tech and industrial companies.