Facing prejudice, many young Turkish-Germans return to Turkey | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 30.07.2010
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Facing prejudice, many young Turkish-Germans return to Turkey

Germany's Turkish minority is often the subject of discrimination. That's why many Turkish-German university graduates are moving back to Turkey, where the economy is growing and they're welcomed with open arms.

Boy waves German and turkish flags

Many Turkish-Germans feel more appreciated in Turkey

Turkish internship applicants in Germany are far less likely than their non-Turkish competitors to be offered a job, according to a study from the University of Koblenz published earlier this year.

In the study, a group of researchers reviewed 1,000 internship applications submitted from economics students. They found that applicants with a Turkish background got 20 percent fewer job offers.

For this reason, many young German-Turkish professionals are choosing to move back to Turkey, where their work skills and their bilingual- and biculturalism are desperately needed for a growing economy.

According to Alev Guenes, a professional in information technology from Heidelberg, the results of the study are spot on.

Group of Turkish young women

Guenes says more Turkish women work in management

"In everyday life, you constantly notice that you're a foreigner," she told Deutsche Welle. "You always have to do more and more to prove yourself and to be accepted."

Good prospects for women

Guenes moved to Istanbul, where she was immediately hired by a software firm. She says she is earning about the same salary she would in Germany, and finds her job prospects as a woman are much higher.

"Of course it is a 'macho-society,'" she said. "But in the same sectors here in Turkey, I find that women are actually much more accepted. Fifty percent of women here are working, and there are a lot more women in management."

Trade associations in Germany estimate that of the 20,000 students of Turkish descent who graduate from university every year, one-third leave the country. Many find that their skills are simply more valued in Turkey, where discipline and punctuality are not always easy to find in the work force.

"German virtues are important, most of all in the financial sector and management accounting," said Ok Ocak, a management expert from Mannheim. "You have to stick to procedures and keep appointments."

Filling gaps in employment

Ocak has worked in Istanbul for about six months at a Turkish subsidiary of the German engine manufacturer MTU. He said his position was newly created, and that it suited him well.

View of Istanbul

Istanbul is a growing metropolis - and economic powerhouse

"They wanted someone who knows Turkish culture and would be easily accepted by the people here, but who also grew up in Germany and has a German education," he said. "That's why I think I fit in well here."

The Turkish economy was not immune to the global recession - gross domestic product dropped by almost six percent in 2009. But the country has already bounced back, with the government reporting a whopping 11.7 percent GDP growth rate in the first quarter of 2010. It was surpassed only by China.

Ocak said despite Turkey's booming market, he could have seen himself emigrating to a different country, like many non-Turkish German students do. But ultimately it was his familiarity with the Turkish language and lifestyle that won him over.

"In my head, I'm more German," he said. "But in my heart, I'm more Turkish."

Author: Anja Kempe (acb)
Editor: Rob Turner

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