After years of economic expansion, Turkey’s economy faces a number of critical challenges, which could place significant downward pressures on the growth potential of the economy. Unemployment has increased since 2012 and stood at 11.7% in 2016, well above the OECD average. Despite this trend, overall employment has continued to grow. The number of people employed grew by an average annual rate of 3.0% between 2004 and 2013. Turkey is divided into 81 provinces that have strong regional disparities in terms of the distribution of jobs and skills. It is therefore critical to look at the role of local policies in fostering quality job creation, economic development and entrepreneurship opportunities.

Over recent years, the work of the OECD LEED Programme on Designing Local Skills Strategies, Building Flexibility and Accountability into Local Employment Services, Breaking out of Policy Silos, Leveraging Training and Skills Development in SMEs, and Skills for Competitiveness has demonstrated that local strategies to boost jobs and skills require the participation of many different actors across employment, training, economic development, and social welfare portfolios. Employers, unions and the non-profit sector are also key partners in ensuring that education and training programmes provide the skills needed in the labour markets of today and the future.

The series of OECD Reviews on Local Job Creation deliver evidence-based and practical recommendations on how to better support employment and economic development at the local level. This report on Turkey takes a case study approach, analysing the management and implementation of policies in the Turkish provinces of Kocaeli and Trabzon. It provides a comparative framework to understand the role of local labour market policy in matching people to jobs, engaging employers in skills development activities, as well as fostering new growth and economic development opportunities. It includes practical policy examples of actions taken in Turkey to help workers find better quality jobs, while also stimulating productivity and inclusion.

This report shows that going forward, the government should seek opportunities to formalise strategic planning processes within Turkish provinces. Each province should articulate a vision for local employment and economic development, which focuses on strategic growth sectors. This vision should be reinforced by stronger engagement with local employers to ensure that skills development opportunities align with the needs of the world of work. There is also an opportunity to improve the quality of jobs at the local level by introducing workforce development programmes that seek to introduce innovations in how employers use technology in the manufacturing and services sectors.

İŞKUR (the Turkish Employment Agency) should be warmly thanked for their active participation and support of the study.