Labour Market Attachment of NEET Youth in Turkey
Labour Market Attachment: According to Labour Force Survey (LFS 2017), in Turkey, while a significant proportion of NEET youth has worked in the past, currently the majority (63.5%) of NEET youth are not looking for a job or do not desire to start one even if they found one. This finding is mainly driven by women in the data: the majority of NEET youth women are not looking for a job or willing to start a job even if they found one while this is not the case for men. The reasons for not looking for a job differs between young NEET men and women: for women, the most cited reasons for not looking for work are being engaged with household chores and looking after children or incapacitated adults. The level of education of the NEET individual makes a difference in their labour market attachment, especially for women and if they have completed university education.
Analysing the NEET phenomenon is not about providing a single snapshot of youth experiencing conditions of labour market detachment at one point in time but about addressing their employment trajectories, structural conditions constrained in their lives and their preferences. In other words, treating this phenomenon as the simple experience of unemployment is too blunt to deal either with misguided stereotyping of NEET as “idle” or “too lazy to work” or indeed the complex trajectories of the school-to-work transition of youth. The fact that NEETs are regarded as being inactive in the labour market “create[s] the impression that they have a ‘passive attachment’ to the labour market, and questioning their willingness to engage with the world of work”.⁴¹ However, youth does not simply fall into the labour market detachment in a standardised manner with a specific unemployment period. Conversely, subsequent journeys of youth through the labour market follow a so-called ‘yoyo’ trajectory implying that youth may go back and forth between different flexible employment modalities, underemployment and unemployment in their transition to adulthood in the labour market becoming more and more unstable.⁴² Labour market trajectory of youth which is not as straightforward as anticipated, therefore, warrants further investigation on the heterogeneity of the NEETs in terms of their labour market status (unemployed vs. inactive) as well as their reasons related to non-participation.⁴³ It is also of paramount importance to investigate different needs and characteristics of disengaged youth and alternate how youth can be supported through distinct and good quality re-engagement programs such as mentoring and wider skills development programmes.⁴⁴
Following these discussions in terms of various paths and characteristics of labour market characteristics of youth, it is important to understand (i) if they ever worked, (ii) if they are looking for a job at the moment, (iii) the kinds of jobs they would prefer and (iv) if they are not looking for a job, reasons behind that decision. In this section, we, therefore, seek to unpack these questions related to skills (proxied by educational attainment), labour market attachment and aspirations.
According to the Labour Force Survey (LFS 2017) in Turkey, the majority of NEET youth was employed at some point in their lives. Most of the NEET youth have been in and out of employment in their lifetime with most of them having a work history. Around 64.5 percent of NEET youth report having worked before. 79.7 percent of NEET men and 59.4 percent of NEET women reported having previously worked at some stage. The most cited reason for leaving this last job both for men and women was that ‘the job was temporary’ or that ‘they were not satisfied with the job’. Another common reason among NEET women is that they quitted their last job due to their spouse’s request or marriage (19.3 percent), or due to care responsibilities at home (9.3 percent report). So it is possible to say that more than 1 in 4 NEET women in Turkey has left their jobs due to marriage, their spouse’s request and/or care responsibilities. This is a significant sub-population of women, constituting 508 thousand people and 7.3 percent of all women in this age group in the country.
While a significant proportion of NEET youth has actually worked in the past, currently the majority of NEET youth are not looking for a job or do not desire to start one even if they found one. Overall only one-in-four (26.0 percent) of NEET youth are looking for a job in Turkey while the rest are inactive (See Figure 16 Panel a). A small percentage (14.3 percent) of the inactive NEET youth reports that they are willing to start a job in the next two weeks if they found one (or established a business themselves). Yet overall 63.5 percent of NEET youth aged 18-29 are completely detached from the labour force neither are they looking for a job nor are willing to start one if they found (See Figure 16 Panel a).
The level of education of the NEET individual makes a difference in their labour market attachment. Around half of the university, graduate NEETs are looking for a job (i.e. they are unemployed) as opposed to only 8.2 percent of those with less than basic education (Figure 16 Panel b). In fact, 91.8 percent of NEET youth with less than basic education is completely detached from the labour market reporting that they are neither looking for a job nor are they willing to start one even if they found one.
The most common reason for not looking for a job among NEET youth is to be engaged with household chores followed by looking after children/incapacitated adults (See Figure 17). Apart from being the most cited reason for not looking for work being engaged with household chores has been cited entirely by women showing that gender norms are a strong factor contributing to being NEET among women in Turkey. Another most cited reason is other personal or family reasons.
Differences are seen in reasons for not looking for a job by levels of education. While it is still the most common reason among youth with different levels of education “being engaged with household chores” is much less likely to be cited by university graduate NEET youth (See Figure 17).
“Being disabled or sick” is one of the most important reasons for not looking for a job among NEET youth with less than basic education. This reason is most commonly cited by the youth with less than basic education with 15.8 percent (See Figure 17). In fact, it is the most common reason for not looking for a job for this group after being engaged with household chores (which is the most common reason for youth with any level of education). Disabled people are at a serious disadvantage in terms of institutional and social barriers they face when they want to access the labour market and education despite the comprehensive legal frameworks in Turkey. For this reason, it is important to design inclusive and comprehensive policies beyond de jure implementations and make sure respective measures are taken to address their problems and experiences to increase educational attainment and labour market participation.
The majority of NEET youth who are looking for a job are looking for skilled, full-time jobs where they can work as regular employees. NEET youth who are looking for a job are not interested in part-time jobs, unskilled jobs or founding a business themselves. 87.7 percent of the unemployed NEET youth are looking for skilled jobs, and this rate is higher for NEET women compared to NEET men with 92.2 percent and 84.0 percent respectively. Almost all of the NEET youth (97.8 percent), both men and women are looking for a regular job rather than founding their own business. And again, neither men nor women are looking for part-time jobs with 95.0 percent of NEET women and 96.6 percent of NEET men looking for a full-time job.
Among NEET youth, the most popular job search channels are through friends and relatives or directly applying to employers. 67.2 percent of NEET youth who are looking for a job reported applying to employers directly while 89.7 percent reported that they tried to find a job through their friends and relatives. Job searching through Turkish Employment Office and private employment agencies (such as kariyer.net) are also other popular methods with 31.0 percent and 29.1 percent of NEET youth who are looking for a job using these methods.
Most of the NEET youth who are looking for a job have been looking for one for six months or less. 67.3 percent of NEET youth who are looking for a job has been looking for a job for six months or less. 21.9 percent have been looking for a job for 7 to 12 months, and 10.8 percent have been looking for a job for more than a year.
Labour Market Attachment by Gender
As mentioned in the previous section, the majority of NEET men and women have a work history (79.7 percent of NEET men and 59.4 percent of NEET women). However, NEET women who have worked before are more detached from the labour market compared to NEET men who worked before. Or in other words, NEET women on average are out of employment for a longer time compared to NEET men. The majority of the NEET men (82.8 percent) who have worked before have left their job in the year of the survey or a year ago while 40.9 percent of NEET women who have worked before and left their last job left it in this same period. Hence, the majority of the NEET women with a work history have been out of employment for more than a year. Hence while men are in and out of employment due to various reasons women are more likely to be out of employment and not to return.
Accordingly, the majority of NEET youth women are not looking for a job or willing to start a job even if they found one while this is not the case for men. Gender differences are significant in unemployment status (i.e. looking for a job) of NEET youth. A much higher share of NEET men are looking for a job compared to NEET women or in other words, a significant share of NEET men do not want to be in NEET status. More than half of NEET men (56.7 percent) are actively looking for a job as opposed to only 15.8 percent of NEET women. In fact, controlling Ifor other individual and household characteristics like level of education, age, and marital status being a man still increases the likelihood of looking for a job by 21.6 percentage points among NEET youth (see Annex Table 9 for regression results).
Marginal attachment to the labour market is also higher among NEET men with 15.7 percent of them reporting being ready for work, although they are not looking for one as opposed to 8.9 percent of NEET women.
For NEET women level of education and especially university education is a strong determinant of labour market attachment (see Figure 19 Panel a). 51.6 percent of university graduate NEET women are looking for a job as opposed to 3 percent of those with less than basic education, 6.1 percent with basic education and 17.1 percent of high school graduates. University education increases the likelihood of looking for a job for NEET men as well, but NEET men with basic education or high school education are also almost as likely to be looking for a job as NEET men with a university degree. Hence for men,
the strong relationship that exists for women between education status and labour market attachment does not seem to exist when we look at the averages .
The reasons for not looking for a job differs between young NEET men and women. The most cited reasons among NEET men are “being disabled or sick” (31.2 percent), “other personal or family reasons” (30.0 percent) and have looked for a job before but not being able to find one (17.6 percent). While for women, 71.0 percent cite that they are not looking for a job because they are engaged with household chores and 17.0 percent cite that they are looking after children and/or incapacitated adults. Being engaged with household chores as a reason for not seeking a job is cited by none of the inactive NEET men and looking after children and/or incapacitated adults is cited by only 0.4 percent of them.
⁴¹ Maguire, 2015
⁴² Ramos, 2018; Chen, 2011
⁴³ Flisi, Goglio, Meroni, & Vera-Toscano, 2015
⁴⁴ Maguire, 2015