Jan 09 2019

Exodus from Turkey hits defence contractors

Hundreds of the most talented people working at Turkish defence contractors are fleeing to Western countries, a great migration that could stall several prominent national programs, reported U.S.-based Defense News.

In recent months, more than 270 defence contractors, mostly senior engineers, fled Turkey for new jobs abroad, with the Netherlands, the United States and Germany topping the list, according to a survey by Turkey’s procurement authority (SSB), which reports directly to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The companies affected by the exodus include Turkey’s largest state-run defence firm, Aselsan, military software company Havelsan, missile-maker Roketsan, Turkish Aerospace Industries, and more.

More than 40 percent (41%) of those who left are age 26-30, while more than half (54%) have postgraduate degrees. “This highlights a trend among relatively young professionals to seek new opportunities abroad,” an SSB official noted.

Nearly 60 percent (59%) have at least four years’ experience in the industry, while 40 percent cited issues curbing their career progress as the main reason for their departure.

Respondents would consider returning to Turkey for higher salaries and better working conditions, and if the political situation in Turkey were to normalise and employees gain social rights in line with European Union standards.

“I know several colleagues who want to leave but have not yet found the right jobs,” a senior engineer who left for a job with a European firm told Defense News. “I expect the brain drain to gain pace in the next years, depending on Western companies’ capacity to employ more Turkish talent.”

According to the Turkish Statistical Institute, 113,326 Turkish nationals emigrated from Turkey in 2017, while net migration inflow, which was positive in 2016, turned negative in 2017.