Kathmandu’s job market needs IT and communications professionals, but there is a disconnect between employees and employersDespite this increasing demand for qualified personnel in the IT and communications sector, numerous problems remain with Nepali job seekers, say human resource management companies.
It wasn’t hard for Sushil Dhakal to find a job—he was working as a social media manager for Story Cycle before he’d even graduated. Similarly, Nirmala Shrestha was able to choose from a number of companies that had offered her a job after graduating. What these two have in common is a degree.
Dhakal was pursuing a degree in computer engineering when he found the social media manager job in his seventh semester while Shrestha has graduated with a degree in Information Technology (IT). With increasing internet penetration and the proliferation of digital technology, the job market in Kathmandu is adapting, with graduates in degrees related to computers and IT finding jobs easier.
“If you start looking for jobs graduating, there is a better chance of finding a job after,” says Dhakal. “Students of information technology and communication also needs to learn working skills before joining any company. Academic qualification is half the requirement, the remaining is gained through different training and work experience.”
The demand for human resource in the IT and communication sectors is high in the domestic job market, given the need for separate IT departments in many organisations, offshore businesses and emerging startups, says Shailendra Raj Giri, managing director at Merojob.com, a popular online job portal.
In the last year alone, there were 1,804 vacancies in the IT and communications sectors at MeroJob, according to statistics provided by the company. This was the highest number of calls for application in any sector, a trend that’s been steady since 2017 and is expected to continue into 2019, said Giri.
A large reason for this trend is that qualified manpower in the IT sector is attracted to work in foreign countries, creating a shortage of human resource in the domestic job market, says Pareshor Kharel, managing director of kantipurjob.com.
“But with the prospects of offshore businesses increasing in South Asian countries, including Nepal, due to low minimum wages, the demand for human resource in IT is bound to rise,” says Giri.
Despite this increasing demand for qualified personnel in the IT and communications sector, numerous problems remain with Nepali job seekers, say human resource management companies.
“There is a perception that once you get a degree from the best college, you will be able to work,” says Giri. “But the problem is that our students are not ready for work.”
In many Western countries, people start working part-time at the age of 18, while also going to college. However, a majority of Nepalis seem to believe that one should start working only once an undergraduate degree has been acquired, says Giri.
“If a person starts working during their Bachelors then by the time they graduate, they will have four years of work experience, which will help them find a better job later,” he says.
Candidates need to be prepare themselves better, both mentally and materially. Merojob.com provides classes on writing resumes and preparing for job interviews in various colleges inside and outside the Valley, says Giri.
But universities should also step up and do their part, says Mohan Ojha of Growth Sellers. “Universities also need to better prepare their students for the job market,” he says. “Students too should be able to recognise their areas of interests and capabilities rather than after the crowd.”
The atmosphere in a classroom and the workplace are very different, says Kharel, highlighting that internships and training periods could act as bridges for students.
The working age population increases by 35,000 every month and Nepal must create 286,900 jobs every year to maintain its safe employment rate, according ‘Jobless Growth’, a World Bank report published in 2017. The number is expected to growing in the coming years as the dependency ratio (age 0-15 and above 60) decreases. An economic survey from the Ministry of Finance also said that 512,000 youths are added to the Nepali labour market annually.
MeroJob gets around 400,000 hits on a daily basis, says Giri, and that 2,000 people are on average applying to different jobs. Out of this pool, 20 percent are shortlisted, which means 400 people are going for job interviews with a 40 percent selection selection, adding up to 5,000 selections monthly.
Jobs these days, including those in IT, can be lucrative, says Giri, even though many new entrants complain of a low salary. Shrestha was only offered Rs 10,000-12,000 a month as salary, which was not consummate with the funds she had put into her education, she says. But according to Giri, professional jobs such as programmers, project managers, geographic information systems experts, specialists in hydropower, data analytics and sales experts are paid very well.
But despite a human resource need in the IT sector and the potential of good pay, many are still attracted to traditional jobs, says Ojha of Growth Sellers.
“Comparatively, women seem to be more attracted to the banking sector,” he says. “If we ask for applications in banking and financial institutions in 20 positions, we receive more than 7,000 CVs.” For instance, his company just opened up a vacancy in a development bank and received more than 8,000 CVs for 15 positions.
Besides IT, there are also new avenues opening up in an expanding job market, but aspirants seem to be unaware. The insurance sector is dry when it comes to human resource and so is the pharmaceutical sector, says Giri.
Universities too are adapting to the changing needs to the job market, with new technical courses being introduced. Courses such as Master of Science in Information and Technology Management (M.Sc. ITM), Masters in Health Care Management, M.Sc. in Construction Management, Master of Education in Leadership and Management, Masters in Agriculture Business Management, Masters in Engineering Management have already been introduced in Nepal. These practical courses can also be credited for the increasing number of entrepreneurs in the country, says Ojha.
However, the number of management students might be high but there is still a workforce shortage in upper level management, forcing employers to hire from abroad.
“We are compelled to hire people from India and other foreign countries to fulfil the human resource needs in specific technical areas, like in the cement and steel industry,” says Tanka Prasad Bhattarai, head of HR at the Shankar Group.
But not all the burden can be placed on the shoulders of students and job seekers. Corporate houses have only recently started instituting performance appraisals, says Ojha.
Giri agrees. There is a lack of a corporate culture in our country and this is what is leading to an inability to retain staff, he says.