Executive summary

Turkey’s economy has proved resilient despite a significant number of external threats from the global economy. Future growth is fragile and will depend on improvements in competitiveness and productivity, as well as making better use of existing skills in the economy. Unemployment stood at 11.7% in 2016, which is above the OECD average and contrasts with recent downward trends across many OECD countries. More than 30% of young people in Turkey aged 15-29 were classified as NEET (i.e. not in education, employment or training) in 2014. This value is sharply lower than in 2005, but well above the OECD average of 15.2%.

There is a strong emphasis in Turkey on placing people into jobs. İŞKUR which is the Turkish Public Employment Agency has significantly increased the number of job and vocational counsellors within the employment system to better match job seekers to employers. Provincial Employment and Vocational Training Boards (PEVTBs) across Turkey assist in the process of creating employment policies at the local level and provide suggestions to İŞKUR about the training courses available for unemployed persons. To help Turkey respond to current and future labour market challenges, this OECD report has looked at a range of institutions and bodies involved in employment and skills development policies with a focus on implementation at the local level. Turkey is divided into 81 provinces that have strong regional disparities in terms of employment and economic development opportunities. In-depth work was undertaken in the Turkish provinces of Kocaeli and Trabzon. The province of Kocaeli falls into a high-skills equilibrium while Trabzon is characterised by skills surpluses indicating that greater efforts must be placed on stimulating higher-skill jobs and productivity.

Going forward, stronger efforts must be placed on providing provinces in Turkey with job opportunities that will contribute to their overall economic and social well-being. Building the leadership and governance capacities of local authorities in the implementation of employment and skills policies should be a priority. The following key conclusions and recommendations should be considered.

Key conclusions and recommendations

Better aligning programmes and policies to local economic development

  • Establish local strategic planning processes to integrate employment and economic development efforts: the government should establish a formal strategic planning process, which would involve stakeholders working together to articulate a vision for the local economy and the priority sectors that need to be developed for future job creation and growth. A small task force in each province could be established to focus on employment and economic development opportunities over the long-term.

  • Develop stronger local research and analytical capacities by leveraging the role of universities in producing labour market information and forecasting skills needs: local universities should become more engaged in the production of labour market information, which offer insights into the competitive positions of Turkish provinces and sector specific analysis, which could compare the strengths and weaknesses of the local economy.

Adding value through skills

  • Encourage more partnerships between the training system and employers to ensure that skills development programmes are well connected to labour market demand: employers in Turkey should play a stronger advisory role within the vocational education and training system, advising on course content and service delivery arrangements.

Targeting sectors and investing quality jobs and productivity

  • Foster the better use of talent in the workplace to boost quality job creation and the productive capacities of local economies: İŞKUR should examine its suite of employment and training programmes to focus on the demand for skills through incentives, which encourage stronger entrepreneurship and skills development opportunities within small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Being inclusive

  • Launch a youth employment strategy at the national level and identify innovative local approaches, which could be adopted in other regions: Turkey has one of the highest youth unemployment rates among OECD countries. This includes a large proportion of low-skilled youth. The government should increase access to apprenticeships, internships, and other work-based learning opportunities for youth.

  • Urgently re-focus labour market integration efforts to assist migrants in developing employability skills: Local governments have a critical role to play in working with migrants to develop concrete and innovative programme responses. In Turkey, the national government can play a facilitating role by working with the provinces to identify “what works” and sharing information among provinces to assist and help migrants build employability skills.