Biratnagar Metropolitan Hosts its First-Ever Employment Fair in Collaboration with the Step Up Project

Labour market insertion
Kavya Biswokarma19.03.2024
In the Koshi Province of eastern Nepal, the Biratnagar-Itahari corridor is a thriving economic hub witnessing promising growth in entrepreneurship and small business ventures. Despite its potential, the region faces significant unemployment challenges due to limited awareness about existing job openings and their prerequisites. To bridge the gap, Mayor Nagesh Koirala and Deputy Mayor Shilpa Nirala Karki of Biratnagar metropolitan recently led one notable initiative by organising a Metropolitan Employment Fair in collaboration with the Step Up project from March 15 to 16.

Marking the first time organising such an event by the municipality, they prepared extensively for the fair. On March 7, the municipality invited various industries and service providers for an interactive meeting, urging them to generate employment opportunities. This helped them compile a detailed record outlining the number of vacancies available and the potential job openings offered by each service provider.

Interactive meeting with industries and service providers

Following the preliminary discussions, the Employment Service Center (ESC) personnels followed up with respective industries, availing a total of 502 job opportunities with a pressing need for employees. To expand the fair's reach to a broader audience and encourage a high number of attendees, the Biratnagar municipality also held a press conference inviting all the leading press from Biratnagar with the objective to explain the fair's objective of linking job seekers with service providers. Furthermore, the municipalities installed hoarding boards, utilised SMS marketing, and promoted the event through radio jingles and public address systems.

The fair featured 40 stalls representing industries from diverse sectors such as hospitality, healthcare, manufacturing, beauty, and IT, among others. Each stall provided insights into their respective industries, job offerings, and encouraged attendees to apply for available positions. Walk-in interviews were conducted onsite and career counseling sessions were also provided. For individuals looking to learn skills prior to applying for jobs, training service providers were recommended for further assistance. The Employment Information Center had also put up a separate stall to inform people about Shramsansar, an all-in-one platform that shares information about jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities and facilitates increased interaction and information exchange among public and private labour market service providers, training providers, employers, and unemployed youths. The platform, developed with the support of the Step Up project, was launched and demonstrated in an event organised by the Ministry of Social Development (MoSD) in Biratnagar on December 27.

Shramsansar stall
Students gathered to learn about Shramsansar

The fair also featured a talk show on a stage in the open grounds during which Deputy Mayor Shilpa Nirala Karki elaborated on the necessity and objectives of organising the event. “Our goal at the fair is to facilitate the connection of job seekers to service providers, providing them with opportunities to secure employment that aligns with their needs and the market demands”.

 A sign language interpreter was present on stage to ensure that the dialogues and information conveyed were accessible to everyone, promoting inclusivity. Both the mayor and deputy mayors expressed gratitude for the efforts of Swisscontact and the collaboration and support in the first ever employment fair.

Mayor Nagesh Koirala expressing his gratitude to the Step Up project
Deputy Mayor Shilpa Nirala Karki

As of now, 600 individuals have submitted job applications, while approximately 100 others have enrolled in various training courses. Additionally, approximately 300 individuals have registered on Shramsansar, and 60 individuals have secured immediate job placements from the walk-in interviews conducted during the fair. The fair attracted over 4500 visitors in total.

Currently, a follow-up interview round is taking place for the shortlisted job applicants. According to the ESC, 200 of them are assured of employment opportunities.

Impressed by the event's success, Mayor Nagesh Koirala has committed to continue the initiative by setting aside funds to host even larger-scale fairs in the upcoming fiscal years as well.

Despite the substantial demand for skilled workers in various sectors within the Biratnagar-Itahari economic corridor, the unemployed youths in the region are unaware of employment and training opportunities. Employment fairs like this offer job seekers a platform to discover the diverse employment opportunities in the market. Furthermore, if they lack the necessary skills for certain jobs, these fairs also inform them about training service providers offering various programs to enhance their skills and prepare them for securing employment more effectively.

Labour market insertion, Migration
Step Up – Improving labour market access for unemployed
Nepal faces enormous employment challenges that are exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Difficulties to find gainful employment for the unemployed include lack of information on jobs and business opportunities, appropriate skills and access to networks and support services such as career guidance or counselling. In addition, business support services that provide entrepreneurs with services to start, sustain and improve their businesses are weak or even missing. The project aims to address these deficiencies in the current employment ecosystem and contribute to the Government of Nepal’s efforts to increase job creation and the employability of its labour force.