Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?
With half of the 75 million population under 30 years of age, Turkey has the largest youth population of all European countries. And like most societies it faces a number of challenges with successfully preparing its youth for their future lives and careers.
Youth in Turkey are mostly unaware of their opportunities or often even discouraged from making self-determined choices for their lives, studies and careers. “My goal in high school was to get good grades”, “I studied what my parents suggested” or “I chose the job my father does” are very common expressions among youngsters growing up in Turkey. In consequence many make life and career choices that do not reflect who they are and what they’re capable of, but rather what they’re being taught to be. In addition to their disorientation, the education system fails in developing and matching talents with existing opportunities. And while career counseling or life coaching become ever more popular services in Turkey they are, in most cases, only available to a few, provided only at certain institutions at certain times and limited in their reach.
Thisresults in a myriad of negative economic consequences: youth unemployment rate in Turkey is 17%, on the job productivity is low and the economic costs of hiring, training and then shortly afterwards losing disappointed employees due to early dropouts are staggering. It also brings with it severe social consequences: Long years of education do not guarantee a fulfilling job, many degrees are irrelevant to the job graduates later work in, many people are dissatisfied with their career choices and many youth become desperate – e.g. out of 10 people in Turkey who commit suicide, 3 likely did so due to feeling they failed in life; another 3 out of those 10 supposedly did because they couldn’t find a job.
In addition to the lack of orientation it is obvious that teaching youth skills such as teamwork, leadership, empathy, communication or taking initiative is not of primary concern to teachers and educational institutes in the country. Not only do many youth lack guidance, but also a majority arguably is not very well equipped with the skills they need to lead successful lives and careers in general. Starting at an early age, youth in Turkey throughout their educational career are trained to robotically repeat knowledge and succeed in exams – rather then being empowered to discover their talents, passions and ability to create things of their own. They neither know what choices to make nor are they aware that they may play active role in society.
The fact that adults and professionals in Turkey are to a large extent detached from youth and only a very small minority engages voluntarily in social activities further engraves the issue and makes it in fact an even broader challenge. Adults often feel they do not properly understand the challenges of their own children or cannot play a positive role in helping youth with important transitions in their lives. At the same time many youth are exposed to the professional world for the first time at their first job interview, many years after making their education and career choices – in most cases too late to reassess them all again.
Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!
While most youth in Turkey are brought up being taught to refrain from asking questions and passively follow the choices adults make for them, “Gelecek Daha Net” envisions young people to be self-determined, proactive and well informed members of society. The initiative inspires youth by engaging them with role models, raises their awareness of existing life, education and career opportunities, encourages them to make choices on their own and empowers them through a combination of guidance, mentoring, coaching and skill development services / opportunities.
Gelecek Daha Net innovates on top of existing mentoring, coaching, career counseling and skill development approaches by combining them all under one initiative. Capitalizing on Turkey’s high Internet penetration, it makes access to such opportunitiesubiquitous through gelecekdaha.net, a web platform youth can access free of charge, anytime and anywhere, independent from their economic or social status. In addition to its web platform and online modules, Gelecek Daha Net also facilitates offline forums and workshops countrywide and will soon introduce mentoring manuals, handbooks and training modules allowing high schools and universities to replicate and localize all of the initiatives approaches.
Gelecek Daha Net leverages the experience, knowledge, skills & networks of hundreds of voluntary role models, professionals, organizations and companies from all over the country providing youth with mentoring and training. The exchange is multifold and mutually beneficial. On the one hand the voluntarily mentors and coaches connect to a younger generation and engage in a meaningful social activity. On the other hand youth get access to inspiration, experiences, knowledge and guidance while being connected in new and numerous ways with Turkey’s private sector and civil society organizations.