Turkey has a young population, with almost half under the age of 30 and one quarter between 15-29 years old. As a response to increasing youth unemployment and the NEETs (not in employment, education or training) rate, in 2021 Turkey launched the National Youth Employment Strategy and Action Plan (2021-2023).
The strategy and action plan is built around three main pillars:
- Reinforcing the link between education and employment;
- Increasing employment of young people who are neither in employment nor in education/training (NEETs);
- Preparing for future jobs.
Furthermore, the refugees in Turkey are a very young population. Due to the high percentage of children and youth out of school, unemployment of youth and employment under precarious conditions is particularly high.
The EU finances support to youth employment and education under the Instrument for Pre-accession assistance (IPA), the Civil Society Facility, the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), the Trust Fund for the Response to the Syria Crisis (Madad) and the Facility for Refugees in Turkey (FRIT). The focus is on youth employment and quality vocational education and training, retention in secondary school, inclusion and human rights aspects, social rights of refugee youth, and social cohesion.
Under the IPA II period (2014-2020), the EU support focuses on increasing employment of young people, particularly targeting those that are neither in education nor in employment (NEETs), and skill development in line with the skills needed for future of work It also aimed at improving the content and quality of vocational and technical education by developing knowledge, skills and competences in line with the Quality Assurance Framework and through the establishment of centres of excellence for vocational education and training. Another important area supported is the strengthening of the national vocational qualifications system and enhancing the implementation of the Turkish Qualifications Framework.
The 2021 IPA annual action plan, under IPA III, envisions further EU support to improve youth employment specifically in the field of industry 4.0 and digitalisation. The action aims to strengthen Turkey’s institutions at municipal level involved in Vocational Education and Training (VET) to develop the talents and skills on technological change, innovation and economic change not only for young people in education but also for young NEETs (young people not in Education, Employment or Training). In 2022, new preventive and responsive programmes targeting NEETs will be developed, as well as support systems to improve foreign language education in order to support active participation of young people in the labour market.
The EU support under the EDIHR places a priority on youth in the context of minority and cultural rights and refugee rights. In addition, there is a focus on the political participation of youth, and there are several grant schemes that finance civil society’s work for youth. Under the EU support to refugees in Turkey, the EU is supporting university scholarships and VET as well as apprenticeship programmes to improve the employment prospects for the Syrian refugees and host community youths. This comes in addition to large programmes under FRIT in support of the Ministry of Education for providing education to refugee children and youth. A specific challenge is youth retention in school beyond primary school and the large number of children and youth out of school.