Kathmandu, July 29
An average of around 48 people left Nepal for employment purpose every hour in the last fiscal year, as the country failed to create adequate job opportunities to absorb these workers.
The hourly departure of workers in the last fiscal, which ended on July 15, however, was lower than around 59 recorded in the fiscal year 2014-15, shows the latest report of the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE).
In the fiscal year 2015-16, the total number of Nepalis, who took up jobs abroad, fell 18.4 per cent to 418,713, as against 512,887 registered in the same period a year ago.
The drop came as the flow of workers to Malaysia declined by 70 per cent.
The Southeast Asian nation, which used to be the largest labour destination for Nepalis till fiscal year 2014-15, absorbed only 60,979 Nepali workers in the last fiscal year, as against 202,828 in 2014-15.
“This was largely because Malaysia suspended recruitment of foreign workers (to reduce its reliance on overseas workers),” DoFE Director Rama Bhattarai had told The Himalayan Times earlier.
Although drop in the number of outgoing workers to Malaysia played a catalytic role in reducing total outflow of workers, an average of 1,147 Nepalis left the country every day — or around 48 per hour — for employment purpose in the last fiscal.
These people accepted placements in firms of various labour destinations, ranging from countries in the Gulf and Malaysia to little-heard nations such as Lietuva, Antigua and Barbuda, Gabon, and Comoros to name a few.
Of these people, 95.4 per cent were males and the rest females, show the DoFE data.
A big chunk of these outbound labour migrants took up jobs in Saudi Arabia in the last fiscal year, making the country the favourite labour destination for Nepali workers. The country provided jobs to 138,529 workers — a jump of 41 per cent than in 2014-15.
Qatar took the second place, absorbing 129,038 Nepali workers, up 3.7 per cent than in 2014-15. Next in the league table was Malaysia.
A big portion of Nepalis entering the job market has been seeking employment opportunities abroad for more than a decade now because of the country’s inability to create jobs. Around 400,000 people enter the job market every year.
One of the main reasons for lack of employment opportunities in Nepal is slow economic growth of around four per cent on average for the last one decade. Also, the industrialisation pace has slowed down in the country, with share of industries in gross domestic product hovering around 16 per cent, as against 23 per cent in 1996. On the other hand, jobs that have cropped up in the services sector, such as construction, trade, retail and hospitality, have been categorised as ‘low skilled’ by the World Bank, meaning pay scale is not very high.
Despite gloomy job market scenario in the country, the number of people seeking employment opportunities abroad has gradually started to fall since reaching the peak in fiscal year 2013-14, signalling saturation in overseas labour migration.
Fall in outflow of Nepalis may come as good news for industries facing shortage of workers. But in a country, where major source of foreign income has been labour export, drop in overseas migration may have other repercussions in the economy.
A version of this article appears in print on July 30, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.