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How Turkey became a thriving outsourcing destination

Posted February 1, 2022
Photograph of Istanbul, Turkey

At the crossroads of Europe, the Middle East and Asia is a powerhouse nation making major strides in tech innovation: Turkey.

Recently, Turkey — a country bordered by Greece and Bulgaria to the west and Georgia, Armenia, Iraq, Iran and Syria to the east — made major gains in the United Nations’ Global Innovation Index and became a leading innovation economy in its region, behind only Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Overall, Turkey leapt ahead 10 rankings to place 41st in the Index, which measures the innovation ecosystem performance of 132 countries. Among Turkey’s biggest strengths? Human capital and research, and creative outputs.

Across the dozens of attributes the Index considers, Turkey ranked highest in domestic industry diversification (fourth place), research talent in business (ninth place) and labor productivity growth (12th place). Education, trademarks and creative goods exports also placed high in the rankings. Capital city Ankara, along with the cosmopolitan metropolis of Istanbul, are both in the list of top 100 science and technology clusters.

The performance is impressive, but unsurprising when you consider Turkey’s many attributes. It’s a young, highly educated, multilingual country with the third-largest labor force in Europe (and 21st in the world) and a burgeoning tech scene, which has led to a number of unicorn start-ups.

“Some 38% of Turks are under 25, meaning the country has the raw talent. The trick is nurturing and unleashing it,” Al Jazeera reported in 2021. “In recent years, STEM centers and laboratories have been set up across Turkey, and growing numbers of teachers are being trained in the application of STEM to real-world problems.”

For many of these reasons, international companies trying to enhance their customer experience (CX) and customer care are looking at Turkey for outsourcing.

Outsourcing in Turkey: the people

There are 209 universities across Turkey, 131 of which are public. Together, nearly eight million students are enrolled in higher learning, ranging from vocational school to doctorate degrees.

The majority of these post-secondary institutions are located in Turkey’s three most populous cities, Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. Among the institutions, 24 have programs in call center services. As well, according to a joint report by PwC and Turkish industry and business association, TÜSİAD, 17% of graduates from Turkish universities have degrees in STEM — a number equal to the U.S. and Australia. A significant proportion of young Turks want to work with technology and the government is greeting this trend with additional investment and more resources for STEM-related curricula.

Additionally, Turkey has a literacy rate of nearly 97%, and though most of its population speaks Turkish, it’s not uncommon for citizens to know at least one other language. There is also a growing assortment of minority languages spoken. For example, TELUS International’s Centers of Excellence in Istanbul and Izmir support customers in Turkish, German, French, Dutch, English, Bulgarian, Italian, Arabic and more.

Outsourcing in Turkey: the location

This melding of cultures makes Turkey a fascinating country, and is why its major cities are so distinct from each other.

Istanbul is the bridge between two continents, connecting southeastern Europe to western Asia. This narrow stretch of land is home to almost 20% of the Turkish population, or just over 15 million people. It is an incredibly diverse city whose culture draws on both tradition and modernity. It’s also the heart of Turkey’s economy, representing one third of the country’s GDP. The city has an advanced transportation network comprised of a metro, buses, trams, funiculars, boats and commuter rail.

Down the Aegean coast is Izmir, one of Turkey’s westernmost cities, both in terms of geography and local culture. Izmir is a historic Mediterranean port city that was part of the ancient Silk Road trade route, which is why it is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. It has Hellenistic and Roman heritage, and its spot by the sea brings in considerable Mediterranean influence. Despite its smaller population compared to Istanbul, it has a well-developed public transit network, vibrant food and cultural scenes and quick access to gorgeous nature sites.

Outsourcing in Turkey: the potential

Because of all these factors — education, cultural diversity, a burgeoning tech scene and history — Turkey is positioned to become a major global tech player.

Some of its biggest tech companies include Getir, a grocery delivery service that is now valued at $7.5 billion and eCommerce platform Hepsiburada.com, which was valued at $3.9 billion when it went public on the Nasdaq in July 2021. In 2020, gaming giant Zynga bought Turkey’s Peak Games for $1.8 billion; meanwhile the nation’s Dream Games was valued at $1 billion in the same summer.

Tech innovation is evidently becoming the country’s strength, but other areas of its economy are also doing well. The contact center and BPO outsourcing sector, for instance, is also booming. In 2020, Turkey’s contact center industry grew by 46% over 2019 numbers according to data from the country’s Call Centers Association.

Why you should consider Turkey as an outsourcing destination

As an outsourcing destination, Turkey has so much working in its favor: a large, highly educated, young population; a growing passion for tech and other STEM disciplines; excellence in customer care; cosmopolitan cities and cultures, plus multilingualism and multiculturalism.

These elements combined make Turkey an attractive outsourcing hub for companies with major global operations across a range of industries. With one foot in Europe and the other in Asia, Turkey’s outsourcing sector stands in a promising position.

Contact us to learn more about TELUS International’s Centers of Excellence in Turkey.

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