A meaningful and gainful integration of youths in labour market is often indicated to play a critical role in the social and economic development of the country. However, lower-income countries including Nepal face an overwhelming challenge to fulfil the demands of labour market to provide employment opportunities to working age group or youth population that continues to dominate the demographic structure. Nepal’s National Youth Policy 2010 defines youths as ‘women, men and third gender of 16-40 age groups’. The unemployment rate as per the latest Nepal Labour Force Survey (2017/18) is at 11.4 per cent. Nepal has a total population of about 29 million out of which 20.7 million belong to working age population. Studies conducted in the past have shown disproportionate relationship between youth and labour market in Nepal leading to exodus of youths in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and Malaysia for foreign employment. Furthermore, Nepal’s already sluggish economic growth is further compounded by the outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) due to which the growth rate is predicted to drop within a range of 1.5-2.8 per cent in the fiscal year 2020. Hence, the country’s precarious domestic labour market runs the risk of failing to provide sustainable job opportunities now more than ever. This is especially acute in the informal sector.
The research employs qualitative research methodologies namely key informant interviews, focused group discussions and informal conversation with government officials, employers and employees including youth entrepreneurs and other relevant stakeholders in exploring perception of dignity of labour in the existing domestic labour industry in Province 2 and 5. Second, the Prime Minister’s Employment Program (PMEP) is analysed to delve into the dynamic interpretation and perception of dignity labour. Third, structural barriers such as gender-based differences are identified and examined concerning the engagement of youths in the labour market. Lastly, policy and implementation gaps are evaluated for facilitating better integration of youths in the domestic labour market that relates to dignity in labour. Besides the already existing challenges, our study attempts to explore further challenges, if any, experienced by the youths in the domestic employment industry.