In today’s Turkey, many white-collar workers with high quality skills and bright students have been seeking for ways to move abroad. Some of them have already made it.
This trend’s main motto is “the sooner the better.”
It is not easy to find the exact data on how many professionals or students are leaving Turkey, but a rise in the number of Turks with good education backgrounds is seen in a number of foreign databases or understood even during small gatherings among friends, during when at least one person is making plans to live in a foreign, preferably a western, country.
A couple of days ago, Nevzat Aydın, who sold his successful enterprise Yemeksepeti for around $500 million a couple of years ago but continues to remain as the company’s CEO, tweeted: “I have to bid farewell to the eighth very good employee of mine of the last one year period. This is such a pity for me, my company and my country.”
All graduates from Turkey’s leading English language high schools reportedly applied to foreign universities last year, although some of their fresh graduates from previous years preferred to study in the country.
This trend is popular even among the wealthiest people in the country. There were a total of 82,000 millionaire migrants who left for greener pastures in 2016, with Turkey one of the five countries witnessing the greatest of such an outflow, according to a fresh survey by the New World Wealth. Among the top five, Turkey experienced the highest increase in outflow last year compared to 2015. While some 1,000 millionaires left the country in 2015, this figure rose to 6,000 in 2016, representing a 500 percent year-on-year increase.
These minor examples and observations have showed the country is facing one of the biggest risks of losing its talents or qualified to-be labor force.
Low skills are already a key barrier to achieving better labor market outcomes for mainly the youth in Turkey, as nearly one in five young people in Turkey are low skilled, compared to around one in 20 in OECD countries.
The country is in an urgent need to increase the potential output growth by improving the labor market, as the Turkish labor market struggles with stagnant labor productivity and a low employment rate, especially among women.
Nothing has happened overnight.
After a number of bombs exploded in people’s lives, a failed coup and an upcoming referendum on expanding presidential powers, people are seeking opportunities to live abroad.
Many of them are uncertain about the country’s social, political and economic future and are afraid of instability. This has triggered hundreds, even thousands, of Turks to pack their bags.
Some of them just want to send their children to better schools with lower fees. Or they do not want to feel like an alien in their own country, where anything can happen to anyone.
Or simply, they want to use their freedoms, which have unfortunately not become easy in Turkey, which has seen a significant boost in the language of tension.
This trend will pose big risks to a country, which already has a poor record of qualified labor force, especially in a number of key science areas, especially in the medium and long terms.
To avert this trend, Turkey has no other way than urgently maintaining its institutions, modernizing its education system and ensuring its people use their freedoms and rights.