Higher education to work transition of young people in Turkey: ambivalence, uncertainties and youth subjectivities

Bozkurt E.

13th Conference of the European Sociological Association, Athens, Greece, 29 August - 01 September 2017, pp.764

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: Athens
  • Country: Greece
  • Page Numbers: pp.764
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


This paper explores final-year university students’ perceptions of labour market and future work. Higher education has long been considered as a gateway to a secure future in Turkey, however, the recent economic and political changes taking place and the changing labour market opportunities, no longer promise a ‘secure’ future for the youth. The rate of population with tertiary education among 25-34 age group in Turkey has risen from 13% in 2005 to 27% in 2015 according to the OECD. On the other hand, according to EUROSTAT data, the employment rate of university graduates (73%), remains as one of the lowest in comparison to the EU countries. Furthermore, in 2015 Turkey ranked third among the OECD countries in terms of graduate unemployment rate, with a score of 9%. In this context, focusing on young people at the point of higher-education-to-work transition in two public universities in capital of Turkey, this study aims to address the subjective dimension of a ‘transition’ experience, which is increasingly becoming uncertain. By conducting in-depth interviews with students at the verge of graduation, the study aims to understand how young people locate and construct their subjectivities in relation to their ambivalent futures in the labour market and world of work. The study argues that while youth transitions involve a dimension of reflexivity and agency, the transition itself is a historically grounded subjective experience. It also shows that specific social, economic and political context of higher education contribute to the dimension of uncertainty for young people in terms of their experience of transition to labour force and work.