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How to help jobless young: ETF joins Friends of Turkey at the European Parliament

Year/Date: 24/01/2012

Tuna Sahin of Turkish SMEs Development Administration speaking at the Friends of Turkey conference at the European Parliament

The Friends of Turkey, an informal group of the Members of the European Parliament (MEP), and the ETF joined forces to find out best ways to fight youth unemployment. The conference “Way Out of Youth Unemployment: Social Dialogue in Turkey”, was organised in Brussels on 24 January. It brought together some 60 participants from the European Parliament, Turkish government as well as employers’ organisations and trade unions.

Alojz Peterle, chairman of the group of the MEPs, said one of the key features of social systems that promote youth employment is social partnership between enterprises and trade unions.

The focus of the presentations at the conference was on the policies and programmes to reduce youth unemployment through vocational education and training and programmes, which require close cooperation between education and business.

Despite Turkey’s impressive economic growth, school to work transition can be a long and difficult process for young people. New entrants into the labour market have difficulties finding jobs especially during periods of economic stagnation.

Jutta Steinruck, MEP, and Madlen Serban, ETF director, talk about the results of the meeting

In 2010, the employment rate of the 15-24 years old population in Turkey was 30%, which was much lower than the 43% employment rate of the adult population. A decrease in the employment rates of the young population to below country average levels is expected as the time spent on education increases.
Unemployment is especially high among the young population, with the unemployment rate among 15-24 year olds (22%) almost twice the unemployment rate of the total working age population (12%), according to Turkish Statistical Office. The disadvantaged position of the young population is not unique to Turkey. The same challenges persist both in the EU and in OECD countries.

Madlen Serban, ETF director, underlined the complexity of the task of reforming Turkey’s education and training system. ‘The number of students in the system, 20 million, is comparable to population of a mid-sized country in the EU. The number of teachers is 700,000 – a small EU country.’

Crucial to fighting youth unemployment is the approach of lifelong learning, both formal and informal, as well as the concrete dialogue between the ministry of education and business, said Oguz Borat, acting director of the Vocational Qualification Authority of Turkey.

The involvement of businesses and companies is an important dimension to close the gap between the worlds of education and business in combination with a stronger involvement of a wide range of social partners.

Tuna Sahin, vice president of Small and Medium Enterprise Development Administration (KOSGEB), told how his organisation supports one of the two career paths available to young Turks i.e., self-employment and setting own businesses. In Turkey, many VET programmes contain entrepreneurship oriented courses and there are also certain compulsory entrepreneurship courses. They are at various levels of the education system and it is expected that this trend will continue to increase.

Friends of Turkey is an informal group of 73 MEPs. The main interest of the group is to closely follow the negotiation process between the EU and Turkey. The group provides a platform for open debate and for the MEPs to play an active role in improving EU-Turkey relations.

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