Transforming Labour Markets

Labour market insertion
In 2023, Nepal saw economic improvements, including a surplus in the balance of payments, increased foreign currency reserves and tourist arrivals, among others. Despite these positive indications, the Economic Survey for Fiscal Year 2022-23 reported a modest 2.16 percent economic growth rate. To boost growth, the government introduced the Digital Nepal Framework (DNF), aimed at enhancing digital literacy and advancing adoption of technology across the economy. The DNF comprises eight categories - digital foundation, agriculture, health, education, energy, tourism, finance, and urban infrastructure.  

The National Vocational Qualifications System Project (NVQS-P), funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), partners with the National Skill Testing Board (NSTB) to address the educational needs of youth without access to formal learning. Together, they established a mechanism for skills’ recognition and certification. The project facilitated technical assistance to develop an online database on the NSTB website, simplifying the skills assessment process. This platform encouraged workers to undergo skill assessment and obtain the National Skills Assessment certificate. The Employers Database system has bridged the NSTB graduates and the employers, promoting job opportunities and improving efficiency in the labour market.  

Ram Kali from Thakurdwara, Bardiya completed her skills assessment for Construction Mason Level 2 from Bheri Technical School, Nepalgunj last year. She learned about RPL from her colleagues, who also encouraged her to apply for the skills assessment.

Additionally, NVQS-P supported NSTB in establishing an online system to apply for skill assessments through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) that recognises skills gained through work experience, family business or in any other way. The system improves access to RPL service and makes the assessment process efficient. For example, when Hari BK, a welder with domestic and international experience learnt that he could earn a qualification by certifying his skills through RPL approach, he applied for the skills assessment through the online platform.

Many qualified workers like Hari hesitate to apply for the skills assessment as the process earlier required them to physically visit the skill testing center or CTEVT offices in each stage. Once Hari applied online, he received all communications through SMS from the NSTB and visited the skill testing center only once on the testing day. Hari appeared in a certification for Welder Level 2, and now works in Biratnagar as a freelancer according to the engineer's blueprint, enhancing his income. Similarly, the online system benefited 67,483 skilled workers or training graduates who all applied through the online platform in the year 2023 alone, increasing their chances for better paying opportunities. In 2023, approximately 185,653 visitors visited the website which justifies the need for such a digital platform.  

Visitors seeking information about NVQS and skill test at Birat Expo in Koshi Province.

Koshi Province has the highest rate of daily youth outmigration for labour work. Insights from Swisscontact’s study identified a growing interest in self-employment and entrepreneurship in the region. Building on this knowledge, the Step Up project partnered with local and provincial government to launch ‘Shramsansar,’ a labour market information system. Shramsansar addresses a crucial information gap by connecting skilled workers, Employment Support Service Providers, Training Service Providers, and unemployed youth with job and training opportunities. 

Employment Service Centre Official orienting job seekers on Shramsansar platform.
"This initiative aims to empower unemployed youth by helping them choose jobs aligned with their skills and market demands, moving beyond traditional job-seeking methods.” Kedar Karki, former Chief Minister, Koshi Province. "
Kedar Karki, former Chief Minister, Koshi Province

In line with Nepal’s constitutional mandate, Shramsansar seamlessly integrated into the Ministry of Social Development, a pivotal step toward government ownership and operation. Launched in December 2023 in three municipalities, the Shramsansar digital platform already boasts 4200 registered jobseekers, 120 service providers, 600 vacancies, 52 training courses, 40,000 platform visitors, and 2,000 mobile app downloads from the Play Store connecting the informal labour market in the region to create job opportunities. Furthermore, 27 municipalities have enrolled in the platform signifying its rapid adoption as a preferred technology among local government bodies.

Initial vocational education and training
Nepal Vocational Qualifications System (NVQS)
Youths entering the labour market in Nepal are compelled to remain unemployed or underemployed and work in low-pay jobs due to a lack of skills, and lack of certification and recognition of the skills they have. To provide wider opportunities and to enable Nepali youth without formal vocational training and education, and those who have gained skills through work experience to enter the labour market with recognized certificates for better employability and career path, the Government of Nepal (GoN) has initiated a National Vocational Qualifications System (NVQS) with the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) to be implemented.
Labour market insertion, Migration
Step Up – Improving labour market access for unemployed
The StepUp project is financed by the Happel Foundation, among other donors. It is part of the Swisscontact Development Programme, which is co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).