Promoting Decent Work For Syrians Under Temporary Protection and Turkish Citizens

Project Overview

The International Labour Organization (ILO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) for the world of work. The ILO sets international labour standards, promotes decent work opportunities and rights at work, enhances social protection and strengthens social dialogue on work-related issues.

Semra Baştürk, WBL beneficiary, in Adana. Semra challenges gender roles working in the heavy industry together with men.
With over 3,4 million Syrians under Temporary Protection (SuTP) (Ministry of Interior Presidency of Migration Management data, as of March 2023), Turkey is the country hosting the largest number of refugees in the world. Out of 3,4 million registered Syrians, an estimated 27.9 percent are male of working age (18-59 years) and 22.3 percent are females of working age (source: UNHCR Operational Data Portal, Syria Regional Refugee Response).

To support refugees and host communities gain a living in decent working conditions, the ILO is implementing the Refugee Response Programme (RRP). This project on Promoting Decent Work for Syrians under Temporary Protection and Turkish Citizens is implemented as part of the ILO’s Refugee Response Programme which facilitates the access of Syrian refugees, refugees from other nationalities and Turkish citizens to the formal labour market and supports them to develop, strengthen and upgrade their skills and competences in accordance with the labour market needs.

The project on “Promoting Decent Work for Syrians under Temporary Protection and Turkish Citizens” supports an equal number of Syrian refugees and Turkish citizens and promotes inclusive economic growth and social cohesion, underpinned by decent work principles.

The project is implemented by the ILO Office for Türkiye in partnership with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MoLSS) and its key agencies and directorates, including the Social Security Institution (SSI) and Directorate-General for International Labour Force (DGILF), with unions of chambers of tradesmen and craftsmen and their confederation (TESK), social partners, local governments and municipalities as well as other public agencies and stakeholders.

Project Components

Component 1- The Work-Based Learning Programme (WBL)

  • Through WBL, jobseekers (Refugees and Turkish citizens) gain formal job experience and training, while employers gain access to a qualified workforce.
  • Wages and SSI premiums are partly subsidized, and work permit cost are covered by the programme.
  • Financial support is provided for women to support their integration in the labour market and cover childcare services and outreach to persons with disabilities.
  • The WBL programme is being implemented in Adana, Ankara, Bursa, Denizli, Gaziantep and Istanbul to enable beneficiaries to gain more adequate skills and access sustainable jobs.
Mehmet Koçak, WBL beneficiary, works in a company that produces office materials in Ankara. He is learning on-the-job from his engineer-foreman in the company.

Component 2- Information Centers (BILMERs)

  • BILMERs provide inclusive and efficient services to support informal tradesmen, craftsmen and jobseekers to enter the formal labour market in Türkiye.
  • BILMERs raise employers’ awareness of the rules and regulations in the labour market and provide work permit application support as well as referrals to training and employment opportunities.
  • Partnerships are set up with the Unions of Chambers Tradesmen and Craftsmen (ESOBs) and municipalities in eight cities across Türkiye to establish nine Information Centers (BILMERs) to provide adequate information on the formalization process through consultations.
  • ILO has opened BILMERs in Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Konya, Adana, Mersin, Bursa, Hatay and Istanbul offering services to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and jobseekers in Türkiye.
Meymune Kanama, GESOB BILMER consultant and a beneficiary, Gaziantep. Syrian young woman consultant Meymune explains how an employer and employee get registered in the Turkish employment system to a Syrian young woman employer who runs a shop selling tobacco and hookah pipe (nargile) in Gaziantep.

Component 3- Transition to Formality Programme (KIGEP)

  • Through the KIGEP, the project provides support to employers to employ equal numbers of Syrian refugees and Turkish citizens formally.
  • Employers receive support payment for employees registered with KIGEP for six months. In addition, for refugee employees, work permit fee is covered under the KIGEP programme.
  • The main partner is the Social Security Institution (SSI) which also encourages formal employment of Syrian refugees as well as Turkish citizens.
  • KIGEP operates in 16 provinces across Türkiye under the SSI Provincial Directorate.
Serpil Kumaş, KIGEP beneficiary, food company worker, İstanbul.

“I worked for many years in my previous company without social security, also worked assuming to have social security but I did not have, as my employers tricked me. I am now trying to complete my missing days to get retired. It is so important to work with social security. Once I remember I had broken my arm and got 25 days of certified sick leave. I got my salary and treatment at that time I was so happy. I feel much more secure and hopeful, thanks to this company and KIGEP”, she says.


  • By the end of 2022, 1,271 jobseekers were placed into jobs within the WBL.
  • Until the end of 2025, ILO will place over 3,000 people in jobs with decent work conditions through WBL.
  • With regard to BILMERs, by the end of 2022, 3,000 employers and 6,076 employees have been supported.
  • By the end of 2025, through BILMER consultations, at least 750 businesses and about 1,000 workers will get registered.
  • As for KIGEP, by the end of 2025, 22,700 beneficiaries will enter and/or continue to work within the formal job market in Türkiye.
  • An equal number of refugees and Turkish citizens benefit from each component.
Adana BILMER is home to hundreds of employers and employees consulting for registering their business as well as referral for training opportunities.

Project provinces

Adana, Ankara, Aydin, Bursa, Denizli, Gaziantep, Istanbul, Izmir, Kayseri, Kilis, Kocaeli, Konya, Manisa, Mersin, Sanliurfa, Hatay, Osmaniye and Kahramanmaras.


Financed by the Federal Republic of Germany through the KfW Development Bank

Please see the project news and updates in the right column.


December 2018 - December 2020 (Phase I)
December 2020 - June 2023 (Phase II)
January 2023 – December 2025 (Phase III)<<