Antalya looks for unemployment solutions

01 Apr 2010

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Supporting United Nations Joint Programme “Growth with Decent Work for All: National Youth Employment Program and Pilot Implementation in Antalya from the get-go, Deputy Governor of Antalya Mehmet Seyman shared his views on the prevalent youth unemployment issue, women’s participation in the workforce and his expectations on the UN Joint Programme.

New Horizons - In his assessment of Turkey’s young population, Seyman argued that “if this population does not have the means to become properly qualified, it may well turn into a burden.”

What is your opinion on Antalya being chosen as the pilot region of UN Joint Programme? Also what are the differences between Antalya and other cities in creating employment opportunities for the young population?

According to National Employment Organization (İŞKUR) December 2009 data, the number of registered unemployed people aged 25-29 in Antalya is 8807, the largest amount among different age groups. Therefore, unemployment among young people is a serious problem for Antalya as much as it is for the rest of Turkey.

On the other hand, Antalya’s dynamic tourism and agriculture sectors can create new employment opportunities for young people. Because of such potential opportunities, Antalya is one of the three provinces in Turkey that receives heavy migration unfortunately causing employment problems. Therefore, we have a responsibility to find employment opportunities for workers. This is the reason of the selection of Antalya as the UN Joint Programme’s pilot region. The UN Joint Programme will create awareness among young unemployed people and it will decrease the discrepancies between supply and demand for labour. In addition, thanks to UN Joint Programme, both private and public sectors will re-evaluate their needs, responsibilities and expectations.

I highly value the UN Joint Programme’s target of increasing participation rate among young and unemployed women in the work force.

What is the role of Antalya Governorate in the UN Joint Programme?

We have been trying to support the UN Joint Programme since its initiation. We expect the concrete program activities to start in the near future. When the implementation phase begins we are determined to provide further support, because we believe accurate, efficient and effective coordination is crucially important.

As a public sector administrator, what are the most important points and biggest changes about employment that you have observed during your career?

My biggest observation is that young people are affected by the unemployment more harshly. An increasing number of young people who are college or university graduates are attending “public days” organized by the Governorate to ask for jobs each week. This is something we didn’t experience until a few years ago. I also have to say the number of women among these unemployed people is also increasing dramatically.

Do you think having a young population is an advantage for Turkey?

Having a young and dynamic population is an advantage and affluence for every country. However, if this population does not have the means to become properly qualified, it may well turn into a burden. If you don’t have the appropriate sources and policies to would train these young people in order for them to specialize and include them into development process, the potential may inadvertently become a serious and dangerous problem.

What are the most important steps that need to be taken in order to turn young population into labour force?

The most important step should be guiding young people in the right direction starting as early as the secondary school stage. As much as we try to offer the best possible education for young people in Turkey, not every secondary school student ends up in university. There is a very strong need for technical, medium level workers at small and medium size enterprises. A policy that would take the sectors’ needs as well as young people’s capacities, needs and expectations into consideration must be implemented. Currently, it is difficult to say that vocational training and guidance policies in Turkey are being properly implemented. Personally, I think the vocational training period is a bit too long. Once a working system is in place where vocational training is controlled by the public, I believe a very important step in solving youth unemployment problem will be taken.

How do you interpret the fact that only unemployed young men and women registered with İŞKUR will benefit from the Joint Programme?

It is vital to plan and to build programmes based on accuracy while using the sources available. This can only be done through an authorised institution. İŞKUR has a very important coordination function as the institution bringing together recruiters and employees. Therefore we value İŞKUR’s involvement in the Joint Programme process. We are direct young people who come to us for jobs to İŞKUR. We have a special committee of 8 people in each week’s “public day” where an İŞKUR representative is also present. While the job replacement percentage of İŞKUR was 23.9% in 2008, it increased over twofold in 2009 to 49.8%. These numbers indicate the efficiency and importance of İŞKUR in providing employment. As İŞKUR continues to improve its services, it will contribute more significantly to the programme.

What are your observations regarding young women who come from of internally migrated families? How do the families react?

Contrary to commonly held assumptions there isn’t a serious discrimination between men and women in migrant families when it comes to work. They just want a job for every possible member of the family.

Naturally, every woman’s condition is different. There are young women who need jobs to support their families and there are women who attended school until secondary level and have bigger expectations. The first group of women are ready to settle for any job that would support their families, whereas the second group requires an office. It is crucial to modify these expectations to a realistic level according to Turkey’s and Antalya’s conditions.

In 2009, the Antalya Governorate organized trainings in more than 60 different branches for 4858 people in the entire province.

We are trying to use our social sources wisely and fairly. We are also encouraging both private and public sector to improve their capacity and use it efficiently and effectively in order to reduce unemployment rates in Antalya.

Furthermore, we place strong emphasis on increased coordination with representatives from all sectors to use sources as effectively as possible.

Through the Provincial Vocational and Employment Board, we are encouraging vocational training and assessing its compatibility with the needs of the sector. In addition we carefully monitor follow up for trainings and the period thereafter to find out how many young people were given employment opportunities and their term of employment. This way, the control and follow up processes start as early as the planning phase.