Düsseldorf, Germany — Gaziantep, a Turkish city of 1.9 million people with a sizable plastics sector, is about to start an injection molding and extrusion training program to help refugees from the Syrian conflict.
The program, funded by local industry and United Nations grants, plans to start early next year and will train 150 people at a time in three month classes, about 90 Syrians and 60 Turkish citizens, according to plastics industry executives with the Gaziantep Chamber of Industry (Hall 8b/E71-7) at K 2016.
Gaziantep, in Southeast Turkey about 60 kilometers from the Syrian border, is currently home to about 400,000 Syrians who have fled fighting in their country.
Adnan Ünverdi, a local plastics industry executive and vice president of the board of the Gaziantep chamber, said the program is both a humanitarian effort to help the refugees and a way to help local companies overcome labor shortages.
“We are starting the training program because the Gaziantep industry needs quality workers, and the Syrians need education,” he said.
The training program will have one extrusion line and one injection molding machine, both donated by industry, and will be taught by staff from a local university and from local plastics companies.
The plastics education program is part of a larger 15,000-square-meter training center that will be finished in the next three months and will work with many other local industries.
Funding is coming from the Gaziantep chamber, groups that operate local industrial zones and the United Nations, he said.
Ünverdi said Gaziantep is an industrial city but many of the Syrians fleeing there do not have much factory experience.
“The people who migrate from Syria do not have the industrial culture we have in Gaziantep, so we are trying to educate them,” he said. “We have to give them help.”
He said Gaziantep has about 1,200 plastics-related companies. Including those working in its large polypropylene carpet industry, the sector employs about 70,000.
Ünverdi is also an executive at thermoplastic elastomer maker SBS Kimya San. ve Tic Ltd. stl. in Gaziantep, a 40-person company.
His company trained and now employs five Syrian refugees. He said Gaziantep also has close cultural connections with the Syrian city of Aleppo, the site of devastating fighting, which is about 100 kilometers away.
“We have an emotional connection with the people,” he said.
Ünverdi also criticized what he said was a lack of attention on the part of the rest of the world to the plight of the refugees: “Although Gaziantep is doing a lot and we are happy to have them, there is not enough world attention.”
The city has a significant number of plastics processors — Ünverdi said it has 22 percent of Turkey's PVC window and door profile industry, and Turkey itself is one of the world's larger PVC profile makers.
A report from the Gaziantep chamber said there is a sizable sector of polyethylene and polypropylene film extrusion firms and plastics machinery manufacturers there as well.
Ünverdi said Gaziantep imports 90,000 metric tons of PP a month, in addition to other materials, making it, he claimed, the largest single city in the world for importing PP.
The Gaziantep chamber and its plastics cluster are exhibiting at K 2016 to promote the region, he said.