People's Review Weekly

Exploring the exodus: Impact of youth migration on Nepal's future

- BY JEEvAN RIMAl The author is a former civil serviceman. He can be reached at: jeewanrima­

Nepal has long grappled with the issue of youth migration. This exodus of young minds seeking opportunit­ies abroad has left an indelible mark on the nation's social and economic fabric. The departure of Nepali youths is not a new trend but has gained momentum in the past few decades. Nepal's limited economic prospects, political instabilit­y, and inadequate infrastruc­ture have left many young Nepalese with a bleak outlook for their future in the country. As a result, they seek opportunit­ies in foreign lands, often opting for countries like India, the Middle East, and even farther destinatio­ns like Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and Europe. One of the most significan­t consequenc­es of this departure is the demographi­c imbalance it creates, with the youth population leaving in search of better prospects and Nepal's workforce dwindling. This not only impacts the country's labour force but also has long-term repercussi­ons on social and economic developmen­t. The elderly population is growing, leading to increased dependency ratios and straining the limited resources available for social welfare.

The departure of youth often leads to a brain drain. Many of the brightest and most skilled individual­s leave Nepal, contributi­ng their talents to other countries. This poses a significan­t challenge to the country's efforts to build a knowledge-based economy and enhance its capacity for innovation and technologi­cal advancemen­t. There is a profound impact on social and family dynamics. Families are often separated for extended periods, which can strain relationsh­ips and disrupt the traditiona­l family structure. The absence of young individual­s in rural areas has led to a demographi­c shift, with older generation­s left to manage agricultur­al activities and communitie­s lacking the dynamism and innovation that young people bring. Economical­ly, the departure of youths represents both a challenge and an opportunit­y. Remittance­s from Nepali migrant workers and students abroad were a vital lifeline for the country's economy in 2023. Nepal received over $1 trillion, 112 billion, and 52 million in remittance­s in the first eleven months of the current fiscal year (NRB, 2022-23). Remittance inflows to GDP ( ) in Nepal were reported at 24.25 . While these funds are crucial for many families' livelihood­s, they do not address the root causes of the country's economic challenges. Furthermor­e, they are vulnerable to global economic fluctuatio­ns and could decrease in the future. Many youths leave Nepal in pursuit of an improved quality of life, including better healthcare, infrastruc­ture, quality education, and living standards.

This trend has both positive and negative consequenc­es. On one hand, remittance­s sent back by Nepali migrants play a crucial role in boosting the country's economy and supporting the livelihood­s of many families. On the other hand, the loss of skilled and educated young people poses a challenge to Nepal's developmen­t efforts. Nepal must invest in education, job creation, and infrastruc­ture developmen­t, providing youths with reasons to stay and contribute to the nation's progress. Additional­ly, policies aimed at protecting the rights and well-being of Nepali migrants abroad should be strengthen­ed. Ultimately, a holistic approach that combines opportunit­ies and support for youths within the country, along with measures to ensure their well-being abroad, is essential to mitigate the departure of youths from Nepal and harness their potential for the nation's benefit.

In the past 12 years, the Nepali government has invested Rs. 1.4 trillion in the education sector, but it has failed to assure and sustain students in domestic education. A total of 416,364 students have taken the NOC (No Objection Certificat­e) from the fiscal year 2065/066 B.S. to 2077/078 B.S., or 227,780. There was a huge jump in labour approvals, from 166,698 in 2020 to 368,433 in 2021. Nearly 78 of the permits so far this year were for just three countries: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE. Under the Korean employment permit scheme and Israeli carer, G2G workers underwent gruelling testing and selection processes. Over 600,000 people in Nepal have left the country for foreign employment over the past 10 months of the ongoing fiscal year 2022–2023. According to the Department of Foreign Employment, 660,255 people have obtained employment permits to work abroad. Remittance­s have become an increasing­ly important aspect of Nepal's economy, with millions of Nepali citizens working abroad and sending money home to their families. In recent years, remittance­s have significan­tly contribute­d to the country's GDP, accounting for 20.76 in FY 2021/22. In the first eight months of FY 2022/023, remittance inflows increased by 25.3 to NPR 794.32 billion.

The government needs to create an environmen­t conducive to economic growth and job creation. This includes investing in education, infrastruc­ture, and healthcare to provide opportunit­ies and incentives for youths to stay in Nepal. Efforts should be made to diversify the economy, reducing its reliance on remittance­s. Encouragin­g entreprene­urship, fostering innovation, and creating an ecosystem that supports small and medium-sized enterprise­s can help create sustainabl­e job opportunit­ies. There is a need for targeted policies and programmes that address the specific challenges faced by rural communitie­s. Investment in agricultur­e, technology, and rural infrastruc­ture can revitalise these areas and provide incentives for young people to remain engaged in their communitie­s. Furthermor­e, promoting skills developmen­t and vocational training can enhance the employabil­ity of Nepali youths, both within the country and abroad. This can lead to better job prospects and higher wages, reducing the need for youths to seek employment overseas. The departure of Nepali youths is a complex issue with wide-ranging implicatio­ns. While remittance­s provide short-term relief to many families, The departure of Nepalese students for study abroad represents a significan­t trend with both opportunit­ies and challenges. It reflects the aspiration­s for quality education and global exposure among Nepalese youth. While it offers them a chance to broaden their horizons and acquire valuable skills, it also poses financial and cultural adjustment challenges. Nonetheles­s, this phenomenon showcases the determinat­ion and potential of Nepalese students to excel on the global stage, contributi­ng not only to their own personal growth but also to the developmen­t of Nepal as they bring back their knowledge and experience­s to the homeland. Similarly, the departure of Nepalese employees for opportunit­ies abroad is a complex and multifacet­ed phenomenon. While it offers individual­s a chance for personal and profession­al growth, it also presents challenges for Nepal's workforce and economy. Balancing the benefits of internatio­nal employment with the need for talent retention and skill developmen­t within the country is a critical task for policymake­rs and businesses alike. The long-term consequenc­es, including demographi­c imbalances and a brain drain, are concerning. To address this challenge, Nepal must invest in its economy, create opportunit­ies, and implement policies that encourage young people to stay and contribute to the country's growth. Only through these concerted efforts can Nepal reverse the tide of youth departure and build a brighter future for its citizens.

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