12/1/2023 11:35:29 AM

The World Association of Public Employment Services (WAPES) European Regional Conference was held in Antalya on 16, 17 November 2023 in cooperation with İŞKUR, Azerbaijan Public Employment Agency and International Labour Organization (ILO) Office for Türkiye with the theme "Public Employment Services on NEETs: Global and Local Trends"

İŞKUR hosted the Conference on Public Employment Services for young people who are not in employment, education or training (NEETs) in cooperation with the Azerbaijan Public Employment Agency and the International Labour Organization (ILO) Office for Türkiye under the scope of the European Regional Conference of the World Association of Public Employment Services (WAPES), of which İŞKUR was the President between 2015 and 2018 and is still an active member.

The opening ceremony of the conference was held with the participation of Mr. Samet Güneş as the General Director of İŞKUR, Mr. Yasser Ahmed Hassan as the Director of the ILO Office for Türkiye, Mr. Noureddine Benkhalil as the President of WAPES and Ms. Florence Dumontier as the Vice President, Mr. Mustafa Abbasbaylı as the General Director of Azerbaijan Public Employment Agency.

At the conference held in Antalya with the participation of 142 representatives from public employment agencies of 44 countries, the experiences of member countries on NEETs were shared with WAPES member countries, international organisations, local and foreign academicians, experts working in the field, relevant public agencies and non-governmental organisations.

Delivering the opening speech of the conference, Mr. Samet Güneş as the General Director of İŞKUR thanked the executive secretariat of WAPES, Azerbaijan Public Employment Agency and Mr. Mustafa Abbasbaylı as the General Director, and Mr. Yasser Ahmed Hassan as the Director of the ILO Office for Türkiye for their contribution to the organisation of the event.

Stating that youth unemployment is an important issue in our country as it is all over the world, Mr. Güneş pointed out that especially the group called NEET is a group that is difficult to reach in terms of participating in the labour market. Mr. Güneş said, “Policy-making for NEETs is an extremely challenging process because it is extremely difficult to develop policies for them as we cannot reach them. Being aware of this, we have been carrying out a project called NEET Pro in recent years, especially with the valuable contributions of the EU Delegation to Türkiye, to support the adaptation of young people who are not in employment, education or training to the labour market. Within the scope of this project, we firstly profiled the NEETs in our country. We have seen what their expectations are and what kind of an audience we are facing. Apart from this, we have also implemented the Grant Programme, which is similar to the Youth Guarantee Programme that has been in the European Union for many years. As İŞKUR, we run a model we call job-hunting for NEETs. We created a NEET pool within a system and started referring the people in this pool to appropriate jobs through our job and vocational counsellors."

“Policies towards NEETs will be strengthened” 

Mr. Güneş emphasized that the youth unemployment rate decreased to 16% in 2023 because of all these studies and measures taken, and continued as follows: “Our Medium Term Programme and Development Plan have been announced recently. These were the programmes that revealed our country's development vision for the next three and five years. NEETs were specifically included in these programmes, too. Actions were included to strengthen the policies carried out for NEETs and increase the capacity in this regard. The NEET issue will make a serious impact in the world in the next 5 years and continue to be a subject to discuss. In our conference, we will seek answers to these questions: 'How can we ensure the easy integration of NEETs into the labour market, how do we create social assistance strategies for NEETs, what are the innovative skill development programmes for NEETs in the world, how can we design NEET-friendly policies and programmes?' It is an opportunity to have representatives of more than 40 countries here. I hope we will realize a mutual learning process with good ideas. I hope that this conference we organized will be the pioneer of new studies on NEETs in the future.”

“Civilians under Bombardment in Gaza”

The General Director Mr. Güneş also touched upon the human tragedy in Gaza in his speech. Mr. Güneş pointed out that civilians were bombed in Gaza and said, “Dear guests, there is something I would like to mention. Gaza issue. Here, we make our presentations and talk comfortably in a peaceful environment, in a hotel by the beach. Here, on the opposite shores, on the southeastern coast of the Mediterranean, in Gaza, civilians are unfortunately under bombardment. Israel claims that this is a war, but as you know, wars also have a law. No matter what we call it, whether it is a war or an operation, if 11,000 people died and more than 5,000 of them are children, the international conscience needs to give voice to this. Innocent children here will not be able to become NEETs. They do not even have a chance to become NEETs because they passed away. We hope that the mistake will be corrected because states cannot act like criminal organizations. We hope that a just peace will be established and an emergency ceasefire will be established very soon, with more action by the international community. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you again for your participation and greet you all with respect."

“Policies and Strategies for NEETs were discussed”

In the panels held after the speeches, the issues of smooth transition and integration into labour market, social assistance strategies for NEETs, innovative approaches for NEETs to develop skills and developing NEET-friendly programmes and policies were discussed in line with the main theme of the conference.

The issues discussed at the conference are of great importance as young people have more difficulties in finding a job than adults according to ILO data, and many countries are still struggling with NEET phenomenon while regarding this as a social policy problem rather than youth unemployment. Through this conference, it is aimed to develop policies and programmes, which need to be developed specific to NEETs by discussing with international stakeholders, based on mutual sharing.

In this context, information was given about the “Labour Market Support Programme for Young People Not in Employment Education or Training (NEET PRO)”, which was developed and implemented by İŞKUR within the scope of the European Union’s Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) to support the transition of NEETS to labour market, and the programme became an important sharing environment in the conference.

The results of the two-day Conference which will be held based on the difficulties in the management of NEETs, their importance and needs will be disseminated to the Public Employment Agencies, the relevant Ministries of approximately 80 WAPES member countries and international organisations, and thus, a critical contribution to the international community will be ensured.