The most recent official unemployment statistics for October 2014 have been released by Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK): official unemployment rate is 10.6 percent, non-agricultural unemployment rate 12.7 percent. You can read a detailed news account of the report here. This figure has remained more or less the same over more than a decade, despite a booming economy, which is now contracting. In other words, while a new middle class has emerged, the poor have remained poor. The only trickle-down has been the customary distribution of resources through family, patronage, charity, and some social services. The family remains most people’s social safety net.
What is most alarming is the analysis of the latest unemployment figures. The devil is in the details. For instance, nearly one fourth of the officially unemployed are college graduates, more than half (54%) of them women.
51 percent of the officially unemployed do not have a high school diploma, university graduates are 24 percent. Regular high school graduates total 11 percent, as do vocational high school graduates. The illiterate unemployed are 3 percent.
Too many young people are graduating from new institutions with low quality education. Since 2006, 51 state universities and 48 foundation (private) universities were set up, many in the provinces. At the end of 2014, there were 176 universities, 104 of them state and 72 of them foundation institutions. Between 2006 and 2014, the national quota of higher education students was increased 83 percent. The Development Ministry’s 2015 Program points to the increasing numbers of students looking to change schools and graduates seeking a second university education show the lack of quality in the system. I am reminded that a couple of years ago (I can’t remember the date and details malesef) a Turkish trade institution planned to ask the government to issue special visas so they could hire IT specialists and other technicians from India, arguing that they are unable to run their businesses in Turkey because there are no people with suitable skills for them to hire.