Jobs hold key to Turkish youth hopes, survey shows

ANKARA: A wide-ranging survey released on Tuesday sheds light on the situation facing Turkish youth amid the pandemic.

The study, conducted jointly by the Habitat Association and the Infakto Research Workshop, underlines the importance of jobs to Turkish youth and their hopes for the future.

Young people make up about 15 percent of the country’s population, with millions of new voters expected to cast their votes in the parliamentary and presidential elections in 2023.

The Habitat survey was based on face-to-face interviews conducted in April 2021 across 16 cities with 1,214 people aged 18 to 29.

It shows that Turkish youth have higher life satisfaction when they find a job.

According to the survey, the overall life satisfaction of young respondents stands at 50 percent, with this rate increasing to 55 percent if they are employed but falling to 38 percent when they are jobless and searching for work.

“The results should be a reminder to the government and private sector to increase job opportunities in order to raise hopes of Turkey’s youth,” Prof. Emre Erdogan, cofounder of Infakto Research Workshop, told Arab News.

“Those who are searching for a job and those who lost hope of finding any employment should be the focus of employment policies.”

According to the state-run Turkish Statistical Institute, a quarter of Turkish youth were unemployed in the first three months of 2021.

The Habitat survey revealed that the rate of young people planning to move abroad increased by 12 percent compared with six months earlier, reaching 43 percent.

Although Turkey leads Europe in youth population, young Turks mostly prefer to live in Germany, the US and France.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) recently said that the number of people aged from 20 to 35 who had left Turkey rose by 70 percent in the past four years.

The pandemic also left younger members of low and middle-income families more vulnerable and fragile, the survey shows.

A quarter of respondents said they had to borrow money and half took out bank loans during the pandemic, while one-fifth of Turkish youth were forced to quit their education and begin working during the same period.

Half of young people from low-income families said they were unable to pay their bills during the pandemic.

Vaccine skepticism remains a problem among Turkish youth, with one-third of respondents rejecting inoculation, the survey shows.

Young people are expected to start getting vaccinated at the end of June.

While last year 44 percent of Turkish youth felt more fortunate than their parents in terms of economic resources, the rate dropped to 38 percent amid the pandemic, with many young people working for low wages becoming dependent on their families.

The survey also showed that Turkish youth have developed a growing interest in topics such as ecology, poverty and technology, while their families focus more on politics.

In terms of educational preferences, 78 percent of young people prefer face-to-face education — a rate that was influenced by socioeconomic disparities in remote learning.

“Turkish youth are not satisfied with the e-learning model that they have experienced under pandemic conditions. Many couldn’t afford to continue remote learning and dropped out of the education system. It is a lost year for them, and urgent measures should be taken to avoid triggering more poverty,” Erdogan said.

Sezai Hazir, president of the Habitat Association, said that Turkish youth focused less on the political divide and “define themselves more on the basis of their accomplishments, careers, freedoms and vocational capabilities.”

The question for Turkish politicians is what will make Turkish youth more hopeful for the future.

Hazir said that a strategy is needed urgently to minimize the effects of the pandemic on the young.

“They want more opportunities.They don’t want other people to talk and decide on their behalf. They need to be put at the center of decision-making mechanisms and to show their needs and expectations. They want an education with a technology component, for instance focusing on cryptocurrency or artificial intelligence,” he said.

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