Chandan Kumar Mandal, The Kathmandu Post, 02 May 2018
A majority of Nepalis migrating abroad for employment are unskilled workers, forced to take up menial and low-paying jobs especially in the Gulf and Malaysia, a government report shows.
Migration of low-skilled Nepali workers has continued for years. According to the Department of Foreign Employment, nearly 75 percent of the migrant workers leaving the country in fiscal year 2013/14 were “unskilled.” The situation has not changed in the past three years.
The latest statistics, derived from the occupation stated in the demand letter submitted to obtain the labour permit, show that a majority of Nepalis have been posted as general workers or general labourers.The report shows that
more than 77 percent of Nepali workers have been placed as factory workers (59.52%) and general labourers (18.82%) combined in Malaysia, the most popular destination for Nepalis.Malaysia offered security jobs (11.63%), general cleaning tasks (3.23%), construction work (1.51%), hospitality (1.50%) and agriculture labour (1.39%) last fiscal year. Nearly 85 percent of female migrant workers were listed as factory workers in Malaysia.
The trend was similar in Qatar, which welcomed the highest number of Nepali workers—113,696—in the fiscal year 2016/17.More than half of the migrant workers bound for Qatar in FY 2016/17 were general labourers (unspecified), followed by a high number of masons (8.13 %) and drivers of light and heavy vehicles (7.74 %), according to the labour migration status report.
“There were also a significant number of workers who migrated to Qatar as construction workers in similar semi-skilled jobs, such as carpenter (4.55%), electrician (2.36%) and painter (1.76 per cent). A majority of the female migrant workers went for general cleaning labour (69.03 %),” states the report.
General labour, general cleaning labour, construction labour and factory labour accounted for nearly 60 percent of the Nepali workforce entering Saudi Arabia in the same period.Labour and migration expert Ganesh Gurung said Nepal has been known as the supplier of ‘unskilled’ manpower for international labour market over the years.
“When these countries require semi-skilled or skilled labourers, they hire from countries like India, Pakistan and others while we supply labourers,” said Gurung. “We have not analysed the labour market and the kind of skilled manpower they require.”
There have been instances of exploitation of Nepalis who lack basic skills, who work under vulnerable conditions for low pay. Nepal has agencies like the CTEVT which provide vocational training to the youth.The government imports cultural knowledge and information about destination countries as part of pre-departure skill-orientation training. Besides, the Foreign Employment Promotion Board provides training for aspirant migrant workers every year.
“Training and the curricula need immediate update as they are not compatible with the market. They merely provide the certificate,” said Gurung. Neither the government nor other agencies concerned have taken initiatives for improving the state of affairs.Unskilled labour force dominates the number of Nepalis working in other Gulf countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman too.