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Gov’t policy has left a million university graduates unemployed in Turkey: opposition deputy

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A lack of planning by Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has left a sixth of all university graduates unemployed, according to an opposition deputy, the Birgün daily reported on Friday.

Of 5.8 million Turkish citizens with advanced degrees, 943,000 are unemployed, according to official data.

“The [government] campaign to establish a university in every city, executed without adequate planning, is the prime reason for unemployment among young people who have university degrees,” Fethi Açıkel, a deputy from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), was quoted by Birgün as saying.

An additional 1.3 million university graduates are not included in the workforce by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) for various reasons.

People who want to work but have lost all hope of finding a job are included in that 1.3 million since TurkStat does not categorize them as part of the labor force.

The number of university graduates who have been seeking a job for more than a year has increased to 253,000 from 227,000.

Longer waits for jobs leave student debt unpaid, and overdue interest payments prompt asset seizure, according the Platform for Unemployed Youth, cited in Birgün’s report.

A November report by the platform notes that among people between the ages 15 and 29, 5.95 million are neither in school nor working, a striking figure that shows the dire straits Turkish youth are in.

Two-and-a-half million Turks between the ages of 15 and 34 are unemployed. Fewer than half of the 24.1 million people in this age group currently have a job, according to TurkStat data.

Turkey has experienced a financial crisis prompted by a steep fall in its currency as the Turkish lira was by far the worst performer in emerging markets this year, hitting a record low of 8.58 against the US dollar last week.

However, the currency staged a rebound this week, trading at around 7.60 to the dollar on Friday, after former finance minister Naci Agbal was appointed on Saturday to lead the central bank and former deputy prime minister Lutfi Elvan was named finance minister late on Monday.

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