Exciting First Graduation under “Opportunities for Lives” Project

wcms_645449Having completed the vocational training under the “Opportunities for Lives” Project implemented jointly by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Directorate General for International Labour Force (DGILF) of the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services (MoFLSS), the first group had the joy of graduation.

The group of 90 comprised of Turkish and Syrian trainees received training in five areas under the vocational training course organised in cooperation with Istanbul Chamber of Hoteliers. Having successfully completed the training, 81 students became Receptionists, Reservation Staff, Housekeeping Staff, Housemaids and Assistant Chefs, and were awarded certificates certified by the Ministry of National Education.

Some of the graduates were employed at the hotel where the training was delivered. Ahmet Yaşar, President of Chamber of Hoteliers gave the good news of employment to all graduates stating that “the sector has serious staff shortage. I guess none of our friends will go unemployed.”

Speaking at the graduation ceremony in Istanbul, Yaşar said: “Today is for us very meaningful. We have completed an important training program to enable Syrian refugees to hold onto life and be equipped with vocational skills, and are today celebrating their graduation. First, we extend our thanks to ILO and the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services.”

Yaşar continued: “I have a message to our Syrian brethren; you have come here as the immigrants (muhajir) and we serve as the helpers (ansar). Appreciate Turkey. Turkey has protected you, and will continue to do so.”

Point out to the need for subprofessionals in the sector, Yaşar stated that the Project would significantly contribute to (making up) the shortage of subprofessionals. Yaşar also gave the good news for employment stating that “90 friends of ours were trained in the courses in various areas of hotel keeping that started on June 20. We are training the trainees to work at hotels that are members in our Chamber. Our purpose is to help meet the need for subprofessionals in the hotels sector. We will progressively place our graduates in jobs.”

Ayşe Afesh, a Syrian among the graduates said: “By the certificate I am awarded, I am starting as an assistant chef at the hotel where we were trained; I am so happy”. Having fled with her children from the war in her country and taken refuge in Turkey, Afesh indicated that she would be stronger and helpful once she had a job, and thanked the authorities.

Yıldırım Gürbüz, training coordinator, expressed that 90% of the 90 trainees successfully completed the course, and 6 were employed. Gürbüz noted that they were in liaison with member hotels of Istanbul Chamber of Hoteliers, and said: “We informed them that the project concluded, and we had certified, qualified workers available. The next thing is to bring together jobs and qualified workers. Through the Chamber, we will achieve this. As a teacher, this Project emotionally satisfied me as well. We have not looked at it as mere training, we have been closely concerned with the problems of our students, tried to find solutions to the best of our ability. Each has own story, problems of material and emotional nature. Here we have tried to enable them to hold onto life with new hopes. We thank everyone who has contributed.”

The ceremony was attended by Yusuf Batur, Deputy Director of Istanbul Provincial Culture and Tourism; Faik Yılmaz, President of Istanbul Union of Chambers of Tradesmen and Craftsmen (ISTESOB), presidents of various chambers, sector representatives, UIGM and ILO officials, trainees and their relatives.

Financed by the European Union, the “Opportunities for Lives” Project aims to economically and socially empower Syrians under temporary protection and Turkish citizens, and strengthen labour market and governance mechanisms in Turkey. To that end, the Project will provide vocational training, entrepreneurship and awareness training, and support entrepreneurship with incentives.