Many Turks eyeing new lives overseas: OECD data
AFP PhotoA large number of Turks continue to eye a fresh start in a new country, as recent data has ranked Turkey fourth among nations which experience major emigration, continuing a decades-long trend.
Turkey has one of the highest numbers of native-born citizens living in other Organization for Economic Co-operation (OECD) countries, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Feb. 4, citing a report showing OECD figures on migration.
The figures revealed that 4.4 percent of people over the age of 15 who were born in Turkey - roughly 2.5 million - were residing overseas in 2014, making Turkey the fourth-highest OECD country in terms of emigration.
“The biggest number of migrants consists of people who want to continue life in better conditions,” Hacettepe University Political Science and Migration Professor Murat Erdoğan told the Anadolu Agency, when asked to comment on major reasons Turks wish to leave the country.
Erdoğan said large-scale overseas migration began in the 1960s - to Germany in particular - with the governments at the time having borne in mind that if citizens went to industrialized countries, they could have eventually returned with a working knowledge of industry and factory working systems.
“During those days, there were demands from Europe as well as the Turkish government to encourage its citizens to migrate because there was not enough employment capacity in Turkey,” he said.
Emigration had been fueled by domestic conflicts as well, as Turkey had problematic circumstances in the three decades between the 1960s and the 1990s.
Turkey and Germany signed a recruitment agreement in October 1961 as part of a guest worker program which allowed Turkish citizens to work freely in Germany.
At the beginning of the migration flows, people were authorized to work in Germany for up to two years, however, “people have stayed there over 50 years,” Erdoğan said.
Turkish workers who went to Germany in the first “guest worker” flows did not speak German and had not received a vocational education, according to a report by Sedat Şahin, an Ankara-based German language expert.
Sahin claimed only 37 percent of the first generation of Turkish migrants were skilled workers, while the rest lacked qualifications or a trade, often relying on manual jobs.
Today more than five million Turkish-origin people live in Europe; 3.2 million reside in Germany.
Over half, roughly 1.6 million Turkish-origin migrants (including their children), have obtained German citizenship and fourth-generation Turks speak native-level German.
The Turkish migration flows, which started 55 years ago and included mostly unskilled workers, have changed in recent years.
“Nowadays there are also brain drains among the Turkey’s native-born young people who wish to set up their own future in Europe, or anywhere in the world,” Erdoğan said.