Kathmandu, January 28:

South Korea has given a green signal to empanel Nepal as a source country for skilled manpower, by allowing its entry into a newly-enforced Employment Permit System (EPS).

South Korean labour minister Lee Sang Soo, who is on a three-day official visit to Nepal, today expressed satisfaction over Nepal’s preparations to become a source country for labour and enter into EPS.

In a brief meeting with media persons after ministerial level bilateral talks on Sunday, Lee said that South Korea is keen to import skilled technical work force from Nepal. “If everything goes as per the plan, we hope to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between two countries by the end of February,” he said.

Ramesh Lekhak, state minister for labour and transport management, who led the Nepali delegation, is also anticipating in the bilateral MoU to be signed soon. “South Korea is very positive on our requests and expressed satisfaction over our preparations,” he said, while talking to The Himalayan Times.

He also informed that the government would inform potential candidates about job opportunities and ask them to take part in training as per the demand from South Korea. The training will include skill development, Korean language and working environment.

According to him, the government will create a roster of trained and potential candidates, which will be put in a website. Korean employers will select workers they need from the roster and start processing to import them through the government. “It is to make sure of transparency and to avoid unnecessary hassles,” Lekhak said.

The labour ministry sources say that Nepal could send as many as 10,000 trained technical workers to Korea every year under the new system, which ensures pay and perks as per the Korean labour law.

“High job security will be ensured with better pay and facilities than what current industrial trainee workers get,” said a senior official at the ministry. The initial cost for interested manpower will also drop compared to the cost involved in sending industrial trainees now.

Taking lessons from the previous controversy in selecting and sending labourers, Korea this time has adopted a new procedure of ‘public sending system’ under which selection and exporting labourers will be done by the source country instead of manpower agencies. Nepal also had some bitter experiences in terms of selection and sending labourers as ‘industrial trainees’.