1. I listened to the reasons bringing you from the idea of being a ballerina to the one of being an economist. What brought you to focus also on the themes of youth unemployment and non-formal education and the role civil societies can have in this field?
Answer: Having lived and studied in Algeria and Egypt, having travelled in remote areas of my home country Turkey, I felt it necessary to understand better the dual life style of these societies, to know what economic development implied, see how things could be changed, improved. I then thought that economics would be the answer. Becoming aware that it was politics that determined the type of economic policies applied in a country led me to work more and more on political economy issues. Politics determine economics and vice versa. Besides teaching I also have administrative responsibilities. This allows me to be in close contacts with students, young people graduating and wishing to find decent jobs. Giving talks, making presentations to various civil society organizations made me aware of their importance leading me to work for one of them. But my main specialty is banking and international finance.
2. You have been mostly working in Turkey: do you think that the motives of unemployment here are the same as in the rest of Europe?
Answer: I have taken sabbatical leaves more than once which allowed me to spend time in France and the US, I have travelled all around the world to give conferences and these opportunities have given me the chance to learn, compare for myself different economies. Unemployment is a general disease and one can find multiple reasons for it. Some are the same as in the developed countries and some are specific to developing ones. In developing countries where population increase is high creating new jobs become problematic, when people living in rural areas decide to move into cities creating jobs for these unskilled people is not easy, when the level of GDP (Gross domestic product) of the country is low, income per capita is not high the government is not able to allocate enough funds to education.
3.What are the valuable skills for today's work environment that can be acquired through non-formal education?
Answer :. Working within a youth organization can be viewed as one form of non formal education. It enables you and your friends to acquire skills such as the ability to communicate with others, to express yourself intelligently and use words effectively. Discussions held during these meeting make you realize the importance of knowledge and creativity. Travelling in different places, meeting people of different nationalities and culture enhances you imagination. Curiosity about what surrounds you makes you more knowledgeable. Training in the right place will also lead to the same results. "To-day's working environment" is an expression that needs to be discussed in depth. Working environment may imply different things for different people. What is it that you really want? What is the ideal environment for you? The answer will depend on the type of person that you are, thus in certain cases you may not want to be part of this "working environment"....
4. Germany, Austria and the Netherlands are the countries performing better in terms of low youth unemployment. What do you think the role of non-formal education is in this situation?
Answer: I think that Sweden, Denmark and Norway are also doing quite well. Social democrat governments attach great importance to education and to questions related to unemployment in general. Politics play an important role. Policy priorities of different parties differ. One can now see a move towards more nationalistic regimes in some of the EU countries leading them to talk about closing their borders, ending the Shengen regime.
5. Do you have suggestions in order to help changing employers' mentality in order to recognize achievement of non-formal education?
Answer: It is most difficult to try to promote specialized programs in small and medium sized enterprises where skilled and educated workers are not essential. In certain cases the government can subsidize in-company training, in other cases such as in Japan training is viewed as the responsibility of firms. In Turkey for example banks train their employees for several months and pay them before employing them. On the job training is important in certain sectors but not so in others. Employers know what they need, and if they do not find the required skilled elements then they train them out of necessity.
6. You talked about the necessity to understand the required positions from market and match with individual competences. Does this mean that people have to stop following their dreams if they do not match?
Answer: The choice will always be yours. What I meant is that your dreams may not correspond with the reality, with what the market wants. Job creation is to-day concentrated in high skilled areas, and if you want to avoid unemployment or low income or job insecurity you will have to behave accordingly. If you insist on pursuing your dreams that will be your choice and you could still be happy doing what you like best.
7. Can universities in Turkey or elsewhere promote youth employment. Can you tell me how this is could be done?
Answer: High school graduates wishing to enter the university system must pass a two stage university entrance exam. Those students who fail the second exam are allowed to enroll in either a 2 year vocational school or a 4 year vocational school. This is a second chance opportunity for them to obtain a diploma that will allow them to secure a good job. E-learning centers could be formed to train young people wishing to work in the IT sector or wanting to operate a small sized enterprise of their own and these courses could be free of charge. These students would thus be able to increase their skills in management, accounting and different programs. Business associations, the government, a university, large firms could also cooperate to put together a vocational program