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Connecting job seekers to employment opportunities through workplace training in Nepal

The ILO through the public employment service centres is providing workplace trainings opportunities to bridge the gap between job seekers and employers providers.

Feature | 27 September 2017
In Nepal more than 500,000 young people enter the labour market every year. With a view to improving job matching and the employment of youth and disadvantaged groups, the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) are working to strengthen the performance of public employment service centres (ESCs) across the country through the Labour Market Information and Employment services (LIfE) project.

Public employment services are a major conduit for implementing employment and labour market policies. Although structured differently in each country, public employment service centres help match supply and demand in the labour market through information, job search assistance and placement services. In addition, ESCs manage labour market programmes and perform other administrative services.

Though the concept of ESCs has long existed within the structures of the Government of Nepal, under the Ministry of Labour and Employment, gaps linking job seekers to employment providers have been identified.  With support from the LIfE project, ESCs are playing an active role in connecting job seekers to employment opportunities through workplace training programmes operated in collaboration with the Dairy Industries Association (DIA) and the Federation of Grill and Steel Fabricators Nepal (FGSFN).  A key advantage of the programme for young participants is that they develop expertise not only through the acquisition of technical skills and personal and social competences but also through socialisation in the workplace. For employers, workplace training also helps increase productivity by addressing skills gaps.

Workplace Training Programmes

Sajal Man Shrestha is the Production Manger at Nepal Dairy Pvt. Ltd., which is a member of the DIA and traineeship provider under the pilot programme. Having trainees at the diary association in Nepal is unprecedented in the company’s history. “This collaboration is a great experience for us as we are getting trained human resources as per our industry needs,” says Shrestha, adding that trainees equipped with theoretical knowledge add value to the entire team as they foster a learning and sharing environment in the industry.

Potential employers in the programme are also seeking to provide Nepal’s youth with additional opportunities. Bharat Lamichhane, proprietor of B&B Furniture, which is a member of the FGSFN, provides traineeships to two individuals under the novel collaboration. “There is so much demand for work in this industry that I am always in need of labour. I try to create favorable work conditions for the trainees who are placed with me so that foreign migration is not the only option available to them for their livelihood,” says Lamichhane.

Trainees at the Dairy Industries

Trainees at the dairy industries

Like the potential employers, prospective employees are happy to have mentorships and the possibility of a job at the end of the traineeship. One such trainee, Dipendra Singh at the Nepal Dairy Pvt. Ltd., says that with the right kind of skills, he feels confident that he can secure a job. Prabhat Moktan is also confident that learning the right skills will allow him to start something of his own in the future. 
The traineeship programme has attracted women trainees at the Nepal Dairy. Many believe their participation in the new initiative will go a long way towards promoting their economic empowerment and changing stereotypes about women. Binita Shah, a trainee at the enterprise, had a hard time finding a job despite having a secondary education. But when she responded to the DIA’s call for trainees, in collaboration with the ESCs, she was happy to have been selected.

Another trainee, Sarita Poudel, says “I used to be limited to the household, but after enrolling in the workplace-based training programme, I have been able to step out of the house and contribute economically to support my family”.

Trainee at the Grill and Steel fabrication Industries

Trainee, Lakpa Tamang
The trainees at the grill and steel fabrication industries also report positive experiences with the workplace training programmes supported by the LIfE Project. “I attend theory classes in the morning and come here to work in the afternoon. I find myself helping other colleagues who do not attend the training to understand the machinery we use as well safety and security at work,” says 21-year-old Rohit Adhikari who hopes his first experience with workplace training will lead to a job offer.

Ramesh Pandit shares similar dreams, who returned from Malaysia to rejoin his family was looking for a job when he came across the opportunity to participate in training.

Working in the grill and steel fabrication industries is a challenge. Lakpa Tamang was a carpenter before deciding to expand his skills set and apply for the workplace training. “I enjoy what I am learning, but I am also sure that this job is not for everyone,” says Tamang. In addition to being physically demanding, the work also requires attention to safety in the workplace. “I am always cautious about my safety and health at work. This is a topic we learn about during our training. We have been provided with safety gear to wear during our work. However, I have colleagues who prefer to work without the safety gear as they feel it obstructs them from working effectively,” Tamang shares.

As the pilot project progresses, ensuring that the occupational safety and health standards are met remains a priority. This includes making sure that workers are comfortable with wearing safety gear. Pandit, who has worked in Malaysia and Nepal, says, “The work environment in Malaysia is very different from that in Nepal — there is a lot of respect for system and time in Malaysia. I feel like we still have a lot to learn in this regard. However, I am confident this will happen if young people start finding opportunities in their own country.”

Saurav Ram Joshi, the National Project Coordinator for the KOICA funded ILO LIfE project says, “We are delighted to support the implementation of the workplace training programme being carried out in joint collaboration with industry associations and ESCs.  The ESCs play a role in shortlisting the trainees and providing valuable counseling and the industry associations manage the training leading to employment. The pilot intervention strives to strike a win-win with the employers and employees by addressing the gap between job seekers and employment opportunities in the country.”

The KOICA/ILO workplace training initiative in Nepal provides a step in the right direction in addressing the gap between the skills needed by employers and those possessed by jobseekers. Strengthened ESCs are a key to bridging the gap between jobseekers and employment opportunities and supporting sustainable labour markets.