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17 november 2011 | Turkey is envied for its booming economy by its Middle Eastern neighbors. But does it produce a perspective for its young talents? For those that lower their expectations: yes.

Many Arab nations look in wonder towards Turkey’s economic rise.Featuring an economic growth of 9% in 2010, Turkey is playing wellin the league of other booming developing nations such as Brazil,Russia, India and China (BRIC). Can we already declare the new eraof BRICT?

Apart from not having such a nice sound to it, observers doubtthat the time for this has come just yet. Phenotypic for thissituation is that a key stakeholder in Turkey’s future is notprofiting much from the economic boom: its growing class ofwell-educated young university graduates.

While the enrolment rate at universities has steadily increasedfrom 23,3% in 2000 up to 38,4% in 2008, unemployment among youngpeople has increased too, from 13,1% in 2000 to 25,3% in 2009. Thisresulted in a yearly graduation output of 573.000 in 2010 (155%increase vis-à-vis 2000). By comparison, the Netherlands have anunemployment and university enrolment rate of 6,6% and 61,5% in thesame year, respectively.

The way out: lower expectations

How did this dire situation for young Turkish talents comeabout? One reason can be seen in the structure of Turkey’s recenteconomic rise. Due to low interest rates abroad, cheap finance wasflowing in massively into the country. Much of this money was usedto fuel a massive expansion in construction projects. Despitecreating a substantial trade deficit and mortgage bubble, thisindustry offers little opportunities for an ever inflating laborforce of young hopefuls.

What is the way forward? Some argue that labor market reformsmight be a way out. Creating a more flexible market for graduateworkers (e.g. decreasing mandatory severance paychecks or removinglimits to hiring and firing new employees) would be theneoclassical answer to this question. Turkish graduate studentsthemselves meanwhile have to deal with the situation on their own,by decreasing their expectations and taking on a job in a grocerystore for instance.

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