Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu announced the final batch of initiatives in the Priority Transformation Program, which is also included in the 10th Development Plan and the Medium Term Plan. The “program to become a center that attracts a skilled workforce,” which is one of the eight programs, has a pivotal role to play when it comes to Turkey’s political and economic perspective.
Up to the 2000s Turkey witnessed the flight of its skilled workforce, particularly its talented youth in the fields of medicine, engineering and the social sciences. Turkey wasn’t able to deliver in terms of working conditions, benefits offered and efficiency.
Additionally, the political uncertainty, economic instability and discrimination in the country meant researchers conducting studies, which were long term and required patience, opted to go abroad. A country, which couldn’t look ahead and began each day with a sense of lurking danger due to some sudden change, experienced a brain drain as its skilled and qualified workers left for various countries.
This is why we don’t just remember the years before the 2000s as lost years in terms of politics and economics but also as the years when our skilled workforce left the country.
NO PLACE FOR BRAIN DRAIN IN THE NEW ECONOMY
With economic balances changing after 2008 when the impact of the global economic crisis was felt primarily in the United States and all the European Union countries, the skilled workforce began eyeing rising economies like Turkey.
Turkey, by virtue of its economic and political stability, and its creation of an alternative pole of attraction reversed the brain drain.
Studies conducted to attract workers in the science and technology sectors have made a major contribution in attracting a skilled workforce. Strategic moves were implemented to recover from the brain drain such as support services and an increase in the number of universities to such an extent that all provinces now have a university.
INTERNATIONAL WORKFORCE IN THE NEW ECONOMY
What catches the eye about the program to become a center that attracts a skilled workforce, which was announced in the latest action plan, is that apart from Turkish citizens working abroad, foreign researchers are also being targeted. This is because the aim is not just to enable the return of Turkish citizens residing abroad.
A primary goal of the New Economy is to attract the interest of foreign researchers too through the implementation of these policies and transform the country into a global knowledge center.
In this context, the implementation of the “Turquoise Card” system, which involves setting aside a fixed budget to avail of opportunities, is a vital step. Areas of the workforce that need strengthening will be identified, and the finances set aside will be utilized to employ expert researchers who are authorities in their field, and bring persons with the potential of establishing businesses to our country.
The inclusion of the Directorate General of Migration Management in the list of institutions responsible for this while conducting all these studies is of immense significance. The migration policies set to be implemented will help Turkey become a country that a skilled and qualified workforce immigrates to.
WHAT IMPACT WILL THIS HAVE ON LOCAL DEVELOPMENT?
The lack of technical and human resources capacity at a local level creates an imbalance in development, particularly interregional imbalances. In this regard, universities have a major responsibility. However, the efficiency of developmental policies in the regions and provinces where these universities are located has a direct correlation to the skilled workforce available.
Therefore, universities need to be brought to a level where skilled foreign academics and researchers will opt to join Turkey’s graduate and post-graduate programs and work at its research centers.
The influx in recent years of international students from various continents and countries to many provinces, not just the big ones, represents an important opportunity to establish a skilled global workforce.
The growing interest of international students in Turkey, apart from an improvement in the quality of education offered, also stems from Turkey once again becoming a source of hope in the region and the enthusiasm that everybody has about the New Turkey. This existing process needs to be accelerated.
It is essential for Turkey, which is trying to increase its power in every field, to avail of human capital, which is the most vital resource toward achieving this goal.
If it can attain this goal by making use of its potential to attract global human capital in addition to its own citizens, the country will become an investment center for science and technology.