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Young-dynamic but unqualified-unemployed

A group of young, dynamic and qualified economists working under the name the Economists’ Platform released the results of a study on May 19, Youth and Sports Day. According to their report, youth are the group affected worst by the economic crisis, with unemployment among people ages 15 to 24 approaching 30 percent.

You must have heard Turkish image-makers use the country’s "young and dynamic population" as evidence of its present and future influence.

Yes, Turkey has a young and dynamic population. I have not seen any young people who are not dynamic. No wonder youngsters are called "delikanlı," or hot-blooded, in Turkish.

However, the important thing is whether this dynamic population is qualified. And on this point, we see a different story.

The United Nations Development Program, or UNDP’s, "Population and Demography Report - 2002" indicated that Turkey has taken a turn in which the number of 15- to 65-year-olds who are eligible to work has reached its highest level ever.

Before Turkey, South Korea quite successfully benefited from this "demographic window of opportunity" that is vital for economic development. The necessary condition, however, is good education and long-term economic planning. In fact, if the population is unqualified, it may actually block development.

Look at the results of research conducted in May 2008 by Bahçeşehir University’s Economic Research Center, or BETAM: In Turkey, the number of young people between the ages of 15 and 19 is 6.3 million. They have pathetic education levels and work potential.

About 1.6 million boys and 1.9 million girls are not attending school. Sixteen percent of boys and 72 percent of girls who are uneducated have only a primary-school diploma. Yes, some are working. But they face miserable working conditions. Most have no social security and work more than 40 hours a week.

Ratio of unemployed youth increases

In the current economic crisis, the ratio of unemployed youth jumped from 17 percent to 28 percent. Two million young people between the ages of 15 and 19 - 600,000 of whom are boys and 1.4 million of whom are girls - are not attending school, not working and not looking for a job.

Another survey conducted by BETAM, this one focusing on children ages 6 to 14 and released in April 2009, reveals that there are 320,000 children at work in Turkey - 207,000 boys and 113,000 girls. Of these children, 70,000 of the boys and 55,000 of the girls are not attending school, and 30,000 have never received an education. Some 204,000 of these children are unpaid, as they are working with their families, and 109,000 children receive pay for their work. Fifty percent of boys and 72 percent of girls who have jobs are working in rural areas, while companies employ most of the rest.

A group of young, dynamic and qualified economists working under the name the Economists’ Platform (www.ekonomistler.org.tr) released the results of a study on May 19, Youth and Sports Day. According to their report, youth are the group affected worst by the economic crisis, with unemployment among people ages 15 to 24 approaching 30 percent.

One of the most striking results of this study was that when young people were asked when they would be employed following their graduation, 57.8 percent said they believe they cannot get a job in less than a year.

These children and young people are Turkey’s most important asset. Considering that they will form the 25 to 45 age group in the 2030s shows how serious the situation is. It is impossible for the youth who will form the backbone of the country’s manpower in the 2030s to meet the level of qualification and education needed for development objectives.

Forget even about all that: Just imagine the social cost of this army of unemployed of today and tomorrow and their propensity for all sorts of quick fixes.
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YAZARIN DİĞER YAZILARI