Supporting employment and vocational training for Syrian refugees and host communities

Project description

Title: Labour market services and technical vocational education and training for Syrian refugees and host communities
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Turkey
Lead executing agency: Vice President’s Office

Overall term: 2016 to 2019


Turkey has taken in over 3.6 million refugees since 2011 when the civil war began in neighbouring Syria. Providing services and housing for these refugees in the long-term poses major challenges for Turkey’s public institutions.

In the beginning of 2016, Turkey amended its legislation to enable refugees to take up work legally. Syrian refugees are now able to obtain a work permit and gain access to the vocational education and training system. By earning a living or acquiring a vocational qualification, they have the opportunity to become active members of the Turkish economy rather than continuing to receive humanitarian and social assistance.

Until now, however, employment agencies, support services for business start-ups and vocational schools have not been able to offer services that meet the needs of refugees. Many refugees lack the necessary Turkish-language skills. As a result of the war, they were unable to complete their education and are no longer in possession of their course certificates. They are also unfamiliar with the Turkish labour market and advisory services.


Syrian refugees and Turkish citizens in the host communities have better access to vocational education and training and labour market services.


The project objective is achieved through activities in two fields of action:

  • The project works with governmental partners (including the Turkish employment agency IŞKUR) and selected non-governmental organisations to ensure that existing advisory services are more easily accessible to refugees. For example, the project helps to make job fairs more inclusive and provides information materials in Arabic. At information events, employers and jobseekers are informed of relevant legal regulations and cultural differences. The project provides assistance for those looking to become self-employed or start a business. The aim is to facilitate the integration of refugees into the Turkish labour market, reduce their dependence on assistance and create income opportunities.
  • The project supports the development and implementation of measures that enable Syrian refugees to access the Turkish vocational education and training system. This includes training measures for teachers and school management in areas such as intercultural communication, conflict prevention and career advice. The project’s 10 partner schools receive equipment and support in developing activities to increase the involvement of families and the private sector.


A total of 140 employees from IŞKUR have received training in the fields of intercultural communication, displacement, migration, and strategy and management or have engaged in exchange formats with German institutions. Most trained members of staff are job and vocational counselors who provide guidance to more than 1,000 job seekers every month. So far, 1,500 Turkish and Syrian jobseekers have attended the careers days and job fairs organised in conjunction with IŞKUR.

In cooperation with the Syrian/Turkish NGO Rizk for Professional Development, 470 Syrian jobseekers have participated in workshops about job application processes and day-to-day work in Turkish companies. Some 95 of them (including 40 women) subsequently found work.

All in all, 3,300 vocational trainees and apprentices are already benefiting from better equipped vocational schools. The trainers qualified and certified by the project have already reached more than 500 people and regularly apply the methodology they have been trained to use through business games in entrepreneurship and financial decision-making. Some 170 vocational teachers and school management staff have taken part in training measures in the areas of intercultural communication, conflict prevention and school management.