Chandan Kumar Mandal, The Kathmandu Post, 27 December 2018
Nepali migrant workers, who were selected for jobs in South Korean after cracking the mandatory Korean language test under the Employment Permit System (EPS) this year, have started departing to South Korea.
A total of 8,996 Nepali workers have cleared the Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK) which was conducted in June this year. Only after passing the language test can a candidate be eligible for South Korean jobs.
Shobhakar Bhandari, information officer with EPS Korea section under the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE), told the Post that a few of those who passed the test for jobs in 2019 had already migrated to South Korea, marking the beginning of departure of the batch.
“The intake for 2019 has begun this week. The first group of workers has gone. The number will start increasing soon,” Bhandari added.
A total of 82,264 Nepalis had registered for the language test, but only 74,866 took the test that was conducted in a total of 28 exam centres—16 in Kathmandu, eight in Lalitpur and four in Pokhara—earlier this year.
The popularity of South Korean jobs among Nepali migrant workers has been rising annually. In 2016, over 60,000 had registered for the language test, which went up to nearly 75,000 in 2017.
Of the total number of candidates who registered for the test this year, 39,640 applied for job placements in the agriculture sector, while 42,624 applied for jobs in the manufacturing sector. However, the South Korean government has fixed a maximum ceiling of 7,100 Nepali workers as potential candidates for its job market.
“The EPS section has already submitted their online applications. Over 5,500 Nepali workers have been enlisted on the roster from where Korean employers will pick workers,” Bhandari said. According to the EPS official, a pool of selected workers will depart for South Korea in February. The EPS department, however, clarified that the South Korean government has not informed Nepal authorities about the number of candidates they will be taking in 2020.
For 2017, the South Korean government had welcomed 3,100 Nepali workers. Likewise, the ceiling for the language test was fixed at 10,200 for 2018. But the country hired only 7,100 for 2019.
Looking at the way the quota for workers has been increasing every alternative year and at the rising popularity of Nepali workers among South Korean employerds, Nepali government officials are hopeful that the quota for Nepali workers will balloon up the next year.
“Nepali workers have earned good reputation among local employers. Most of those who clear the test are successfully picked, so we can hope the ceiling for passing the test, and then being eligible for a job, will go up next year,” Bhandari told the Post.
A total of 8,079 Nepali workers have migrated to South Korea in 2016, followed by 7,800 in 2017 and 8,511 in 2018. According to the DoFE, a total of 58,709 Nepali migrant workers have reached South Korea since the country opened its market to foreign workers in 2008.