The number of youths applying for the Korean Language proficiency test has declined this year, with the EPS section at the Department of Foreign Employment confirming that 51,000 applied for the test scheduled for June 13 and 14 by Sunday–the last day to submit applications. There were 62,000 applicants in 2014 and 47,000 in 2013.
The figures from the EPS section show 26,855 people applied for the test from five form collection centres in Kathmandu and 24,644 from five other centres outside the Capital.
Officials pointed to a number of reasons, including the exam date that clashes with academic exams, for fewer applications compared to last year.
“Early exam dates this year have caught many people unaware. Many refrained from applying as the test coincided with exams of bachelor’s level and Teacher’s Service Commission,” said Ram Chandra Giri, manager at the EPS Center Nepal.
The centre had made changes to the examination schedule this year after it came under severe criticism for conducting the test during Dashain festival last year.
Attraction towards Korean jobs among Nepali youths has been high ever since HRD Korea started hiring workers under EPS system since 2007.
South Korea has emerged as one of the most sought after destinations for Nepali workers, even young and educated youths, due to low recruitment cost, better benefit schemes and high salary compared to Gulf countries. Nepali workers earn anywhere between Rs 100,000 to Rs 200,000 each month for menial job.
“South Korea has emerged as a model destination for people seeking foreign employment due to low cost and high earning,” said Dilli Ram Bastola, director of the EPS-Korea Section.
The pass rate of the language test has, however, declined considerably following the change in curriculum two years ago. Only 6.2 percent of the total who appeared in the exam or 3,663 applicants made it through the test last year.
According to EPS officials, the aspiring Korean job applicants need to have a better understanding and competence in Korean language as questions are getting tougher each passing year.
Jobs in South Korea have even appealed to university graduates, women and even people already holding good jobs. The Korean government has not set any educational criteria for applicants as the quota is for the unskilled labourers. However, the language test is open only to applicants below 39.
Those who succeed in this year’s test will be allowed to get into Korea in 2016, but the number of intakes for 2016 has been kept under wraps. The South Korean Human Resource Department allocated 5,300 jobs in 2015; 5,700 in 2014 and 5,234 in 2013 in the manufacturing, agriculture and farming sectors.