TSKB Economic Research focusing on youth employment in its new report, “Youth Empowerment”

27 May 2021
- 5 min Read

TSKB Economic Research published its “Youth Empowerment” report which shines a light on youth employment and the problem of youth unemployment, which has long presented a problem around the world. While the report highlights the rise in unemployment during the pandemic, it considers youth employment in the world and in Turkey on the axes of development areas, the pandemic, climate change and gender inequality. The report points out the necessity for empowering young people as a means of achieving sustainable and inclusive development.

Unwaveringly continuing its financing, consultancy, and research activities to promote Turkey’s sustainable and inclusive development, Industrial Development Bank of Turkey (TSKB) published its “Youth Empowerment” report prepared by Cihan Urhan from the Economic Research Department, which discusses youth employment, the most important agenda item in Turkey and the world. Reflecting that the empowerment of youth will mark a significant step towards sustainable and inclusive development, TSKB Economic Research examines the youth unemployment problem in all aspects.

According to International Labour Organization (ILO), the number of youths aged 15-24 in labour force was almost 500 million and 13.5% of them were unemployed in 2019.

TSKB Economic Research drew attention to the studies which demonstrated that youth unemployment rates are significantly higher than the rates of unemployment among adults and stated that the possibility of becoming unemployed was three times higher for young people than for adults over 25 years of age.

TSKB Economic Research remarked that the factors behind this included a lack of technical skills, limited access to education and training, insufficient labour market policies, the difficulty faced by young people in accessing capital and skills mismatch, and highlighted the need to focus on finding solutions to these issues to reduce and end youth unemployment.

Difficulties faced by young people exacerbated by the Pandemic

According to the "Youth Empowerment” report, while COVID-19 pandemic has left behind a destructive impact on the labour market, it has exacerbated the difficulties faced by young people all over the world. According to ILO estimates, 8.7% of young people lost their jobs because of the pandemic in 2020, compared to 3.7% for adults. The pandemic left young people even more disadvantaged by curtailing opportunities such as education and internships, and limited new job opportunities. The report remarked that this issue could result in more young people being brought into the NEET category (not in employment, education or training) in short or medium term.

The report also pointed out that young people face serious problems while changing jobs or entering the labour market, as much as continuing their education and training. In addition, the report states that the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected employment opportunities for young people in Turkey. According to the report, in parallel with the global trends, labour force participation has followed a downward tendency during the pandemic, decreasing to 34.5% in May, 2020 – a decline of 9.1 percentage points in comparison with the same period of the previous year. Even though the Turkish economy has started to partiallyrecover since then and youth labour force participation rate has been on an upward trend, the rate still remains far below the pre-pandemic levels. Furthermore, the report highlights figures which show that unemployment among young people in Turkey has risen since the outbreak of COVID-19, and stating that the composite measure of labour underutilization among young population presents a clearer and more comprehensive picture about the difficulties young people have faced during the economic recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nearly 13% of young people in OECD member countries were classified as NEET in 2019. Turkey had the highest rate in this field among OECD members, with a NEET rate of 28.8% among the 15-29 age group, based on 2019 figures. Meanwhile, when the NEET rates in different countries are examined, the fact thatthe NEET rates among young women are systematically higher than for young men. While 15.4% of young women in OECD countries, were classified as NEET in 2019, only 10.7% of young men were in this category. The highest gender inequality in NEET rates is in Turkey, with a gap of 22.1 percentage points. The NEET rate for women between the ages of 15-29 in Turkey has reached 40%.

Only one in every five young women is employed in Turkey.

TSKB Economic Research also highlighted that the low level of employment and workforce participation rates among young women in Turkey presents another difficult problem for the Turkish labour market. The report stated that when the 15-24 age range was considered, Turkey stands as one of those countries to have the lowest workforce participation for women. According to the research, in 2019, while average workforce participation rate among women was 44.4% among OECD countries, it was just 32.6% in Turkey. Moreover, only one in every five young women in Turkey is employed (22.6% by 2019). The report proves that even though the gender gap in the labour market has narrowed in recent years, the data for 2019 demonstrates that the employment rate among young women and their employment participation rate are 20.7 and 23.3 percentage points lower than for young men, respectively.

A rising rate of unemployment for young women with high levels of education

Even though more educated young women are participating in the workforce in Turkey, the numbers of unemployed are increasing. Young women who are participating in the workforce who have graduated from vocational high school or an institution of higher education form the group with the highest share among unemployed women. In addition to this, young women who have graduated from a vocational high school or college of higher education appeared to be the group struggling the most to find a job between 2014-2020.

Young people more vulnerable to potential risks of the climate crisis

According to the report, Turkey is one of the countries which stands to be most affected by climate change, given its geographical characteristics and increasing urban population. Research conducted clearly proves that the changes in temperature and precipitation impact economic growth with agriculture being the most vulnerable sector in the climate crisis. As the European Commission has highlighted, insurance, infrastructure and construction, human health, tourism and energy systems are also among the other sectors most at risk from climate change. More than half of employed young people in Turkey are working in the accommodation and food services, manufacturing and wholesale and retail sales sectors. Some 293,000 young people between the ages of 15-24 who participated in such economic activities lost their jobs during 2020. The numbers also confirm that youth employment has decreased sharply when compared to adults over 25 years of age during the economic recession caused by COVID-19. TSKB Economic Research, by looking at the potential destruction which could be wrought by the climate crisis, draws attention to the fact that green investments will boost opportunities for youth employment, as well as protecting the environment and increasing the climate resistance.

The Youth Empowerment Report can be found on the following link:

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