Mustafa Sönmez – Hürriyet Daily News, Oct.27 2014

As the world and Turkey proceed toward economic shrinkage, it is the young population who is the most anxious about it. While youth unemployment is rapidly increasing especially in the European Union, in Turkey the concerns of the young population are increasing regarding both access to education and access to employment.

European Statistics Office Eurostat data reveals that young employment in Europe, especially in Mediterranean countries, has reached jaw dropping levels. Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) data also points out that young people in Turkey have significant problems in access to education and employment.

According to the July 2014 Household Workforce data, the young population in the 15-24 age group are 11.7 million and roughly a third of them are in education, another one third is working, while the final one third is either unemployed because they have not been able to find a job or they are neither at school nor holding a job. In other words, they are outside the workforce and this number has reached 3.7 million.

Inadequate schooling

Among the 11.7 million young people of ages 15-24 in Turkey who should mostly be in school, the ones who attend school are nearly 4 million, in other words they only make up one third of the young population. While the schooling rate in secondary education is 76 percent, the schooling rate in higher education is near 40 percent. This means they are out of school.

While the young population who are outside education reaches 8 million, those who are out in the market looking for jobs and who are the “workforce” are near 5.2 million as of July 2014. However, while only 4.2 million of them are employed, nearly 1 million of the youth workforce is unemployed. Consequently, according to the total of 5.2 million of the workforce, 18 people out of every 100, and according to the total youth population nearing 12 million, 8 people out of every 100 cannot find jobs, even though they are looking.

This 18 percent of youth unemployment varies regionally. Youth unemployment in the east and the southeast reaches 30 percent. But, in some western big cities it is also scary. For example, in İzmir, it is 27 percent, in Bursa and in the Kocaeli region it is 25 percent.

Men in employment

Among the 4.2 million youth who were able to find a job and who work, men make up two thirds of them, while women have a share of one third.

Young women between the ages of 15-24 are nearly 5.9 million and they lag behind both in education and in employment when compared to men. While 58 percent of young men participate in the workforce, the rate of participation in the workforce by young women is 29 percent.

While 32 percent of young males are students, this rate is 34 percent in women. Out of the total of young people in education, men constitute 49 percent and young women constitute 51 percent.

Among the young population in Turkey of the ages of 15 to 24, the rate of those who neither go to school, nor work is one third. Out of them, 8 percent of the population is “unemployed,” the ones who cannot find a job even though they are looking for one.

However, 23 percent of them neither go to school, nor are in the workforce market. This young population in transition is nearing 3.7 million and 2.5 million of them are young women, while 1.2 million are young men.

Out of the 2.2 million out of school-out of workforce, young women constitute 36 percent of the total population of young women. One reason creating this situation is the difficulty young people face in accessing secondary education in rural areas, especially in less developed regions; another factor is the behavior of conservative families of not sending young girls either to school or to work.

In big cities such as Istanbul and İzmir, while this trend is broken to a small extent due to the living conditions, in a large portion of Anatolia, especially in the cities, both education and jobs are shut down on young women by the patriarchal family order and the number of young girls who are neither in school, nor in jobs reach 2.2 million. If jobs were sought for them, when 350,000 young women who cannot find jobs even though they are looking for them are added, the number of unemployed becomes 2.5 million.

For young men, on the other hand, the number of those who are neither at work, nor at school reached 540,000, corresponding to the 9 percent of the young male population. When added to these, nearly 600,000 young men who cannot find jobs even though they are looking for them, then the inactive young male population becomes 1.2 million.

Youth unemployment in Europe

With the global crisis, youth unemployment in Europe has become one of the biggest problems. Starting in 2008, which is considered the first year of the crisis, youth unemployment increased rapidly. Those who joined employment from the 15-24 age group reduced rapidly, especially in the Mediterranean members of the EU; the youth are in a situation where they have not been able to find jobs for years. Turkey stands at a place near the average, both in terms of employment and in terms of youth employment.

According to European Statistical Office data, in the 28 member EU community, the participation of the young population in employment was 37 percent 2008; however, in 2012 it went down 5 percentage points to become 32 percent. The decline of points reached 6.2 in the Eurozone.

In general in the EU, youth unemployment went up from 16 percent to over 23 percent during the crisis time. The decline in employment and the increase in unemployment are not the same in the entire EU; in some of them, there are scary pictures, while others are relatively good.

While youth employment in North Europe has a higher course, in southern countries it is lower. The south has a dark picture also in youth unemployment.

Even though in the Netherlands 70 percent of the youth are employed and this rate went back 7 points in the crisis, their youth employment is still high at 62 percent. Youth unemployment is 11 percent.
In Germany, youth employment declined nearly 6 points and now only 47 percent of the young population is employed. Despite this, the unemployment rate is only 8 percent. The U.K. and Sweden are relatively in a better place in youth employment and unemployment. The real problem is in South, Central and East Europe…

France can only employ about 30 percent of its youth and youth unemployment is nearly 24 percent. They have a huge problem. As can be easily estimated, the ones that have the biggest problems in the youth department are the Mediterranean countries.

In Spain, youth employment, which was already 36 percent in 2008, went down to 17 percent. In Spain, youth unemployment reached a jaw-dropping 55 percent. The same goes for Italy. Youth unemployment in Italy skyrocketed during the crisis from 21 percent to 40 percent. Similarly, Greece and Portugal are in trouble with youth unemployment. In Greece, 58 percent of the youth is unemployed and only 12 percent of the young population have jobs.

Written by Mustafa Sönmez