Projects targeting the urgent needs of more than 5 million Syrians seeking refuge in the neighboring countries due to the Syrian Crisis which entered its 7th-year last month are increasingly leaving their place to projects that meet longer-term needs. Especially, the importance of income generation and skills building projects is increasing. One of the projects which are in line with these is the INGEV’s Labor Market Assessment project which targeted Syrian and economically disadvantaged Turkish youth living in Istanbul.
Funded by a humanitarian aid organization specialized in the child protection field, this project was composed of two phases; phase one aiming to find out action sectors which can offer entry level positions to Syrian youth aged 18 to 25, and phase two which focused on identifying the suitable job opportunities, technical and other skills needed by these opportunities and training institutions which can offer the necessary skills training. The research which was initiated towards the end of February 2017 was finalized and reported in May.
In the first phase of Labor Market Assessment, which was supported by desk research, interviews with leading employers, training institutions, employment agencies and vocational training centers and focus group discussions, Construction, Textile, Retail, Hospitality and Health sectors stood out due to reasons such as penetration by Syrians and the need of Arabic speaking employees in these sectors. After the first phase of the research, in the second phase, interviews with the sector representatives, HR representatives of companies, NGO representatives, and public officials were conducted and three group discussions were held with similar participants in order to receive their opinions about potentials of these sectors and possible challenges and opportunities. In these discussions, the main opinion was that Syrians can contribute to local economy especially by being employed in the occupations which are no longer desired by the host community but the legal procedures and fees are negatively affecting the employers.
In addition to these studies, a focus group discussion with Syrian youth aged between 17 and 25 was conducted to receive their opinion about their skills, job aspirations and the difficulties they encounter during their work life in Istanbul. Syrian youth who participated in the group discussion mentioned about cultural differences in the workplaces and the pay gap between them and the Turkish employees. The youth, who voiced their desire to returning to their country after the crisis, stated that their stay in Turkey may be longer than expected due to the continuing civil war in Syria and therefore they might have caused problems in Turkey, but still there is a need for thinking about the coexistence of the two societies.