Job destinations' lustre fading

KATHMANDU: Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will no longer be popular destinations for Nepali migrant workers, Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE) data has revealed. The trend of Nepali blue-collar jobseekers going to these two countries is falling.

Around 824 Nepalis left for Malaysia between mid-April and mid-May which was 49.22 per cent less than the previous month when 1,674 Nepalis left for Malaysia. A drastic fall of 44.91 per cent in migrant workers leaving for the UAE within a month was seen. The number dropped from 1,710 workers for the UAE last month (mid-March to mid-April) to 768 from mid-April to mid-May.

Among destination countries Malaysia, the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the first two have been hit hard by global economic meltdown.

Around 7,000 Nepalis were laid-off in Malaysia and the UAE due to the crisis, said Tilak Ranabhat, president of the Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA).

"I cannot predict that the future will get better soon," he said.

Malaysia had announced a 'not to hire foreign workers' policy last January after its export and manufacturing industries were hit by the crisis. "We do have new demands but the volume is too small," he added. Malaysia had hired around 4,181 Nepalis workers between mid-April and mid-May last. After last January, the number of Nepalis going for work in Malaysia has been falling significantly.

Likewise the UAE where the trend of hiring Nepalis is falling significantly since late. The UAE had hired 1,894 Nepalis from mid-February to mid-March, 1710 from mid-March to mid-April and 768 last month. Recently, the UAE assured a Nepali crisis observation team that visited there in April that it would hire at least 100,000 Nepali migrant workers in 2009.

Malaysia and the UAE are on the third and fourth rungs of the ladder of top five destination countries. Qatar with 3,023 Nepali workers, Saudi Arabia with 2,831 and Bahrain with 157 are on the first, second and fifth rungs. According to DOFE, around 7,795 Nepalis -- 7,771 men and 24 women -- left Nepal between mid-April and mid-May through foreign employment agencies, whereas 3,282 left via individual contracts.

The Nepali labour market abroad has shrunk by 20.59 per cent from mid-April to mid-May compared to the same period the last fiscal year. A total of 147,545 Nepali migrant workers left the country during the first 10 months of the fiscal year 2008-09 whereas the number during the same period last year was 185,817.