Rising trend: Increasing numbers of Nepali youth seek foreign work opportunities

Published On: October 3, 2023 08:00 PM NPT By: Sabita Khadka

KATHMANDU, Oct 3: An upward trend in the issuance of work permits for foreign employment reflects the growing desire among Nepali youth to seek employment abroad due to a dearth of domestic job opportunities offering good service conditions.

The Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE) reports that during the month of Bhadra (mid-August to mid-September), 50,884 young Nepalis secured work permits to pursue jobs overseas. This group comprised 6,687 women and 44,197 men. Similarly, in the preceding month of Shrawan (mid-July to mid-August),  55,575 Nepali youths ventured abroad with approved labor permits, including 7,725 women and 47,850 men.

The commencement of the current fiscal year witnessed an increased demand for Nepali laborers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) during the months of Shrawan and Bhadra, with a combined total of 23,587 individuals securing work permits to work in the UAE. Furthermore, a substantial number of foreign workers received work permits in these two months, including 18,869 in Qatar and 17,437 in Saudi Arabia and Malaysia.

It's worth noting that while the number of Nepali youth seeking overseas opportunities is on the rise, there was a slight decrease in the number of individuals departing in Bhadra compared to Shrawan, according to DoFE statistics.

Kabiraj Upreti, director of the DoFE, explains that Nepali workers tend to go abroad based on the demand for labor in the respective countries. The fluctuation in the numbers is due to varying demands. However, the desire of young Nepalis to pursue work opportunities abroad remains unwavering.

Officials acknowledge that many of the employment opportunities pursued by Nepali migrant workers offer lower wages and fewer benefits. In the current fiscal year, a significant number of Nepalis have ventured abroad as laborers, factory workers, cleaners, domestic workers, construction workers, and security guards. The data also indicates that individuals are seeking employment as waiters, cooks, and consultants through individual efforts rather than manpower agencies.

Director Upreti clarifies that the official figures of work permit holders do not include those who enter on tourist visas and subsequently obtain work visas, often in destinations like Dubai or European countries, bypassing the regular work permit process.

Unfortunately, due to unresolved challenges in sending domestic workers abroad, many women resort to illegal routes, increasing the risks associated with their employment abroad. Upreti emphasizes that the data does not account for those going to India for employment, as there is no provision for obtaining work permits for such individuals.

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many young people to seek employment abroad, given limited job opportunities in Nepal. For some, foreign employment is a choice, but for many, it's a necessity, says Upreti.

Notably, the number of individuals traveling to Europe has been on the rise, with Nepalis securing work permits for countries like Croatia, Cyprus, France, Poland, and Romania through the DoFE.

Recognizing this growing attraction among Nepali youth for foreign employment, the government is working on plans to ensure safe, regulated, and dignified overseas employment opportunities, according to the DoFE.

The Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security also aims to promote employment and self-employment by developing skilled manpower and enhancing domestic job opportunities. Krishna Prasad Bhusal, information officer at the Ministry of Labor, highlights the goal of increasing production and productivity by fostering internal employment.

It is important to note that the majority of Nepali migrant workers fall within the economically productive age group of 18 to 44 years, with the highest concentration in the 25 to 34 years bracket over the past three years.

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