Social Science Baha
Official

Nepal’s Change Agents: Educated Youth and their Involvements in the Local Labour Market

Andrea Kölbel

Recent studies of Nepal’s labour market indicate that unemployment rates are highest for the age group between 20 and 29 years, with almost half of the young population being reported to be underutilised. In search for an adequate solution to the persisting problem of youth un-/underemployment, public actors, including national policy-makers and international partner organisations, increasingly place their hopes on the resourcefulness of young people themselves, emphasising on the ‘hidden potential’ of youth-led initiatives. In this paper, I investigate to what extent Nepal’s educated youth can indeed fulfil the role of a change agent by taking initiative to contribute to the wider social good. I argue that this is a question not only of young people’s motivation per se but also of their latitude to follow through with their ideas. I therefore explore in which forms of work young Nepalis were engaged, what motivations underlaid their economic activities and how their present job situations were related to their future career ambitions. With my analysis, I build on existing research which conceives of society as a mechanism for the production of public hope as opposed to the individual’s private aspirations.