Istanbul — Turkey's plastics industry can benefit from the skills of the 2 million refugees in the country who have fled fighting in Syria and other places, and the government should adopt policies to help that to happen, according to the head of one of Turkey's plastics industry trade groups.
The comments from Yavuz Eroglu, head of the Istanbul-based Turkish Plastics Industry Foundation, or Pagev, came during a wide-ranging interview in his office Dec. 7, one day after the close of Turkey's national trade show, Plast Eurasia.
While some plastic companies in Western Europe have highlighted job training, language classes and other efforts to help the estimated 1 million refugees in Germany and other nearby countries, Eroglu noted that “more than 2 million” refugees are currently in Turkey, mostly in the southeast.
“I believe that now [the refugees] don't have a real working status but I believe we should as a country give this a chance and use these talented people as part of the industry,” Eroglu said. “I'm not talking about cheap labor making some products. This is not the real interest of the Turkish industry.
“The case is we need more knowledge and Syria was very good in some areas,” he said. “The education level in Syria was very good before.”
He said he saw evidence of those benefits during a visit to a plastics exhibition two months ago in Gaziantep, an industrial city in southeast Turkey with a sizable polymer industry.
Eroglu said local plastics executives told him, as one example, about Syrians who have fled their country and have brought expertise in plastic shoe making to Turkey: “The people in Gaziantep were telling me that Syria was famous for the shoe industry. They bring a lot of talents and knowledge from Syria. And now Gaziantep is very good at shoe making because of these Syrian people.”
As well, he said he met a mold maker at the fair from Syria who had fled and was now working in a key role in a local Turkish company, but apparently with an uncertain legal status.