Half of young civil engineers grappling with unemployment in Turkey

According to a study released by the Chamber of Civil Engineers (İMO), three out of ten civil engineers in Turkey are informally employed and earn less than the minimum wage. Some 28.2 percent of civil engineers are unemployed, while this figure goes up to 48.3 percent for engineers under the age of 35, the study found.

K. Murat Yıldız / Duvar English

“Unemployment among civil engineers is at an all-time high in Turkey. Not only are civil engineers facing unemployment, but they are also facing practices that harm their professional reputation,” the Chamber of Civil Engineers (İMO) stated in a recent study.

Key report findings

The report titled “The Reality of Civil Engineers in Turkey: Job, Employment and Unemployment” includes the following key findings:

    -- Some 28.2 percent of civil engineers are currently unemployed. This disparity is even more pronounced among female and young engineers. Unemployment affects 47.1 percent of female civil engineers and 48.3 percent of civil engineers under the age of 35.

    -- Some 47.8 percent of civil engineers are paid less than 4,200 liras. Even worse, 27.5 percent of the employees work at a wage below the minimum wage.

    -- Some 58.9 percent of engineers must rely on borrowed funds. 51.7 percent of engineers had taken out a loan.

    -- Engineering jobs in government institutions have all but vanished. Only two out of every ten engineers (18.8 percent) work for the public sector, while, in the private sector, two out of ten engineers (19.5 percent) are required to do extra work to survive.

    -- The majority of engineers want to live in another country (65.4 percent). Among engineers under the age of 35, 82.3 percent want to live in another country.

Other than those key findings the study points out the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on engineers.

According to the study, during the pandemic period, 37 percent of private-sector engineers lost some of their rights: 33.2 percent were on unpaid leave, 26.6 percent had their wages reduced, and 19.6 percent had their jobs terminated. Moreover, the business volume of 88 percent of civil engineers operating in their own companies has decreased.

Suicides in Turkey due to financial hardships have also increased in frequency.

“We haven’t heard of such incidents from our colleagues, however, data we announced shows clearly the economic difficulties they are dealing with,” Taner Yüzgeç, President of the İMO told Duvar English. “We have been struggling since 2018 to collect the annual fees for our chamber,” he added.

Gov't aimed to transfer wealth to its supporters via construction

Yüzgeç points out that the issues in their report are not limited to civil engineers, adding that, “the issue isn't confined to our field of expertise. Other engineering branches and architects are having similar problems, but construction is Turkey's economic engine."

"As a result, when the construction industry in Turkey experiences a crisis, it affects us first. Mechanical and electrical engineers, for example, feel the effects later than we do as they are part of industrial production, but we know many colleagues in other fields are struggling too.”

This outcome, according to Yüzgeç, was unavoidable: “This government presided over Turkey's largest construction boom, but there was no masterplan in place. It was all about making money and transferring wealth to certain circles. So here we are today.”

Pandemic exacerbated gender disparities

“Wage disparities against women already existed, and the pandemic exacerbated them. In Turkey, construction sites are still dominated by men, and our female colleagues are given more administrative positions than on-site responsibilities, which is another issue that has to be dealt with,” Yüzgeç concluded.

No faith in Turkey’s future

“I graduated a year ago and have been looking for work ever since. We were dreaming of having our first car with my girlfriend around this time but we realize now that we were too optimistic," a young civil engineer from Bursa told Duvar English.

“I applied for over 100 jobs online and in-person and was not even invited for an interview. We see no future in this country and want to move abroad, just like every other young person, and all our friends,” he said. 

Like many others in Turkey, the young civil engineer considered joining the police force, which employs university graduates from all fields, but his father refused.

He is now planning to join the army as a professional because he has given up hope of finding work in the private sector. “Joining the army might be my only chance to do my job in this country,” concluded the 24-year-old civil engineer.