Turkey doesn’t have a holistic system of vocational education and training (VET) monitoring and evaluation. This makes the Torino Process and the Riga Conclusions for mid-term VET deliverables for EU candidate countries, valuable tools for policy reform.
Several areas have witnessed major progress. The new Turkish Qualifications Framework, compatible with the European Qualifications Framework. Work-based learning initiatives through a law on apprenticeships, and 12-years compulsory schooling, helping address high drop-out rates, particularly among teenage boys.
Data sharing agreements between Turkey’s social insurance institution (SGK) and national statistical agency (Turkstat) further increase the ability of VET experts to assess progress. A good example is through tracer studies, that show where VET students, obliged to complete 300 hours of practical work-based learning before graduation, enter the labour market.
With 1.8 million students in Turkish VET (50,000 in the 12th grade alone), representing 46% of secondary students, the sector is increasingly popular in a country with a population of 80 million.
Özlem Kalkan, an expert in Turkey’s Ministry of National Education (VET), has observed a big shift over the past six years.
‘We’ve opened new fields that correspond to labour market developments and our 81 provinces all have councils that determine priorities areas for study that meet local needs.’
Priorities include improving the quality of apprenticeships and using digital distant learning to improve continuous professional development in VET teacher training.
An example of good practice is UMEM10 – a project run by the Turkish Employment Agency ISKUR, the Education Ministry and Ankara’s TOBB University of Economics and Technology.
It aims to raise labour force skills through a mixture of on-the-job training, colleague contacts and mentoring. The scheme guarantees employment for 50% of graduates. Around 26,000 courses have been delivered and over 197,000 trainees graduated by October 2015. ISKUR data shows 68% of graduates found work.
Since 2014, the Torino Process has been helping Turkey to coordinate all national institutions involved in VET. ‘As the Torino Process report involves the whole country, it is essential to cooperate with all involved,’ says Özlem Kalkan.
Coordination is important for all EU reports, but this is in a different league, she says.
‘It involves not only the EU countries! Our peer reviewer for the national report is Israel and we have to review their report. We learned what was going on there and it has also prompted exchanges between Turkish and Israeli VET schools.’