Over 3 million Syrian people fled to Turkey as a result of Syrian Civil War. With the temporary protection law, Syrian refugees have gained access to services such health care and education by getting registered under Temporary Protection status. Even though the state doesn’t prefer to use the term ‘refugee’, for  Bridging Peoples, anyone who have sought refuge to another country escaping from war is defined as a refugee and they must be protected by the refugee laws. For this reason, the term refugee will be used.

With the latest regulations in the law, Syrian refugees can apply for a job through the Turkish Employment Agency (İŞKUR). We have a favourable opinion on granting work permit to Syrian refugees, although refugee rights are not granted. Since Turkish citizens don`t apply for shepherd category, the Agency offers this category for Syrian refugees.

We, as the Association of Bridging Peoples, are in contact with the refugees in Izmir for two years and we came across people with various professions (back in Syria).  For this reason we decided to make a research about the refugees in order to understand their work tendencies.

Our fieldwork consists of three stages: preparation of questions, conducting the questionnaire, data entry and analysis. While preparing the questions,  we aim at learning household size, number of employers and jobseekers, education background and living conditions. We also asked about their jobs in Syria, working conditions and problems at workplace in Turkey. Finally, we researched for the job that they like to do.  We chose Agora, Kadifekale and Kapılar region where our association have contacts in to hold the questionnary.  In our fieldwork lasting two days we applied the questionnaire with accompany of Kurdish and Arabic translators.  112 questionaries were analyzed in total.



  1. 112 people from 99 households were interviewed. The sample consisted of 3 women one of whom was a female child and 109 male as 26 of them was male children.  143 of the inhabitants of the households were female as 130 of them were male and 295 of them were children.


  1. The total population of the households were 568 while 127 of them working implying that 1 out of 5 people were workind. 19 of the interviewees were unemployed whereas 48 of them were searching for a job.


  1. There were 130 children at the school stage and 29 of them were working indicating that one out of 5 children is working.


  1. None of the 93 working people has any job contract, job security and social insurance.


  1. The level of education of the participants is as followings: -34 people are illitreate (%30,3) -10 people are literate  (%9) -23 has primary school degree (%20.5) -43 people has middle school-college degree – (%38,4) -2 are people university graduates  (%1,8). There are 14 children who used to go to a school when they were in Syria; 11 of them strated to work in Turkey and 6 of them are not able to go to a school anymore. 8 of them (7 boys and 1 female) both work and study.


  1. 13 out of 112 were tailors in Syria, 8 shoemaker, 1 cook, 1 fisher, 3 hairdresser, 1 computer engineer, 1 painter, 2 bag makers and 1 farmer, 1 ironsmith, 1 electrician, 1 photographer, 1 foodtechnician, 2 cameramen, 4 carpenters, 1 fashion designer, 5 drivers, 5 stone carvers, 2 plumbers. Only one person was a farmer in Syria.
  2. 24 of them were able to do same job in Turkey (21%). They were mostly skilled jobs that refugees could continue such as tailoring, hairdressing, shoe making. Constrution work is one of these jobs. The rest of refugess who used to have  skilled jobs (i.e. plumber, faience layer) in Syria currently work in other types of jobs in Turkey. There were white collar employees such as cameramen (2 people, photographer (one person), call center person (one person).  Moreover there is a refugee who used to be a swimming tutor and currently works in a shoemaker and there are wardens and drivers who started to be carrier in Turkey. We also asked the number of total employees  and foreign employees  in their working place.  According to data gathered from 64 respondents, the ratio of Syrian workers id more than 10%. According to answers of 12 respondents there are non Syrian foreign workers from Iraq, Afghanistan and/or Pakistan. At the end of the questionnary, Syrian refugees were asked whether they woul like to attend a course for learning a profession and the answer of 42 of the participants was  The majority of the participants who either said no or did not respond declared that they do noh have time for  such an activity. When they are asked what kind of jobs they like to do, the majority said that they would like to do their own job. Besides, there are people who would like to continue their education and also learn professional in furniture making, hairdressing, fashing design and sports. As observed from the majority of the respondents’ answers and the field notes, the major need is Turkish language course.


  1. 37% of the participants’ household income is less than minimum wage. Monthly income of the participants are as followings: 2 people’s less than 100TL, 11 people’s between 101-500, 50 people’s 501-100 and 37 people’s between 1001-2000. 75 people outof 99 households live in shanty house  apartment and 30 people in abandoned houes. The rent avarage is between 250-500 TL and expenses on water and electricty is around 250 TL. The reason for the high expenditure on these service can be their water and electricity use habit since  Syrian did not use to pay for these service when they were in their country. Moreover we observed that all of the refugees live in debt due to the  financial hardship.


  1. 93 working people were asked the question “what kind of problems are you faced with in the workplace?”. 58 respondents answered the question, which had a selection of multiple choice answers. According to the answers given by the 58 out of 93 who answered, 37 participants stated that “they are paid less than others doing the same job”; 35 said that there is no certainty about their job and they could be fired at any time; 26 said that they have language and communication problems;17 said that they are faced with discrimination, insults and abuse of their rights;12 said that they are unable to get their salary in a regular way; and 10 said that poor working conditions had affected their health negatively (e.g. long working hours and heavy lifting jobs)v17 respondents who stated that they are faced with discrimination, insults and abuse of their rights were asked the question “who is the guilty one?”. 11 answered as supervisors, 7 said colleagues, 4 said customers, 6 said employer.
  2. On the contrary to official authorities’ assumption, shepherding as a profession, for which Turkish citizens don’t prefer to apply to the Turkish Employment Agency (İŞKUR), is not a proper option for the refugees living in Izmir city center.  None of the refugees could find a job through Turkish Employment Agency. There is no indication on a well-organized, systematic approach by public authorities for employment of refugees. People coming from various cities of different regions of Syria includes professional workers such as engineers, musicians, photographers, cameraman and  craftsmen such as tailors, shoemakers, tile setter foreman. Employing those people, who are still carrying weight of the war on their shoulders, in shepherding profession would not be only unfair about them but it is also depriving them of their right to hope for building a better life. Refugees have various professional skills and job preferences. Therefore, refugees’ employment areas should not be limited and they should not be compelled to work in areas which Turkish citizens don’t prefer to work.

We hope that in the light of this kind of researches, refugees having a profession will be provided with job opportunities in their professional areas. The problems and issues in the working life of Syrians in Turkey will be solved and youngster can get professions thanks vocational courses or schools for them.

Precarious and uninsured employment has become a common practice by putting forward Syrian people. All kinds of informality and sub-construction must be stopped and

suitable conditions should be created for integration of refugees in production process. Forming a network of organisations, solidarity and struggles on a common basis via organizations such as labour unions, professional chambers, associations will play a big part in prevention of right violations and enhacement of international solidarity.

Refugees should be provided with consultancy on  new regulations and language courses to facilitate integration in host community and working life.

The survey has shown that school age children have to work in order to take care of their families. These children are not only deprived of educational right but also had to enter the labor market in very early ages. The number of children have the highest rate in households  and their living conditions should get better ASAP and they should be supported to get access to education.



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