WEF:  How reskilling can play a key role in Turkey’s recovery

As Turkey prepares to accelerate the transformation of its economy during the COVID-19 recovery, leveraging its human capital will be crucial.


The Turkish economy has managed to weather the storm in 2020 with GDP growth at 1.8%, outperforming all G20 economies except China. It also continued to grow within the first quarter of 2021 with the rate of 7%. As a result of economic recovery process, industrial production and employment managed to reach its pre-pandemic period very rapidly. Yet, the social impacts of COVID-19 have been profound, with unemployment sitting at 10.6% as of June 2021.


A report on the “Future of Work. Turkey’s Talent Transformation in the Digital Era”, published by McKinsey and Company in January 2020, estimated that although automation, artificial intelligence and digital technologies will cause some job losses in the country, gains in productivity, increased investments and the growth of the service economy will result in 3.1 million net new jobs by 2030, including 1.8 million jobs that currently do not exist.


To enable these gains, 21.1 million workers will need to be reskilled.



According to the OECD Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), Turkey needs to improve the proficiency level in basic skills of a significant part of its population in order to use technologies that will increase productivity and enable more efficient working methods. Fortunately, the gap with the OECD countries is decreasing and is smallest for 15 -24-year-olds.


Turkey should continue to build the right set of soft and technical skills for current and future jobs and provide better opportunities for all.


As the main authority to design industry and technology policies in Turkey, the Ministry of Industry and Technology (MoIT) attaches utmost importance to develop effective strategies and incentives for navigating both technology-led transformation and enhancing employability and skills to meet labour market needs.


This was the reason why the human capital agenda is fully integrated within the key strategy and initiative that will shape Turkey’s technological and digital development in the next years, most notably the “Turkey’s 2023 Industry and Technology Strategy” and “National Technology Initiative”



Turkey is also increasingly investing in innovation and technology development through its National Technology Initiative, with the ambitious target to increase R&D spending to 1.8% of GDP over the next two to three years.


The right skilling strategy should focus not only on the quality of education but also on the quality of the ecosystem that continuously reskills workers and creates jobs to absorb and retain the young workforce.


A number of initiatives are already under way. For example, “Open Source Platform” which is a public-private-academic initiative to improve software developer ecosystem and increase the number of qualified software developers has launched.


MoIT has also established two coding schools with Ecole 42, a new generation free coding school with project-based, peer-to-peer and gamified learning system. Two schools have a capacity of 2,000 students, and the duration is about three years, resulting in a potential employability rate of 100%. The private sector contributes to curriculum development, projects and mentoring.


Another initiative is “DENEYAP Technology Workshops”, which provides basic technology education to the students from grade 4 to grade 9 since 2017. DENEYAP provides trainings for three years in the fields of design, coding, robotics, electronic programming, internet of things, nanotechnology, aviation and space. These workshops have been established in 30 provinces, and 5,600 students have started or completed trainings. The target is to reach a total of 100 workshops in 81 provinces in order to provide training to more than 50,000 students within five years.



Accelerating initiatives

A coalition of government and business leaders will now work together to scale and accelerate many of these initiatives through the Turkey Closing the Skills Gap Accelerator, coordinated by the Istanbul Development Agency in collaboration with the World Economic Forum. With this initiative, Turkey joined a group of 10 countries that are implementing this model as part of the Reskilling Revolution.


The Closing the Skills Gap Country Accelerators are national public-private collaboration platforms to help governments and businesses prepare their country for the future of work through improving skilling and education ecosystems. The model is designed to implement targeted initiatives across four key objectives: lifelong learning and upskilling; proactive redeployment and re-employment; innovative skills funding models; and skills anticipation and job market insight.


Across these four objectives, the strategies selected by the accelerator will take a systemic approach to unlocking collaborative action within institutional structures and policies as well as norms and attitudes and collective leaders’ commitment. Ensuring a skills-based recovery will be essential to ensuring long-term prosperity and inclusion for the Turkish population.


Excerpt from the same-titled WEF Report



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Published By: Atilla Yeşilada

GlobalSource Partners’ Turkey Country Analyst Atilla Yesilada is the country’s leading political analyst and commentator. He is known throughout the finance and political science world for his thorough and outspoken coverage of Turkey’s political and financial developments. In addition to his extensive writing schedule, he is often called upon to provide his political expertise on major radio and television channels. Based in Istanbul, Atilla is co-founder of the information platform Istanbul Analytics and is one of GlobalSource’s local partners in Turkey. In addition to his consulting work and speaking engagements throughout the US, Europe and the Middle East, he writes regular columns for Turkey’s leading financial websites VATAN and www.paraanaliz.com and has contributed to the financial daily Referans and the liberal daily Radikal.