Japan Expands Nursing Program for Foreign Workers

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Elderly Care In Need

As Japan’s population continues to shrink and get old, elderly care workers become increasingly in demand. This has allowed more foreign workers here. Currently in Japan, it can be extremely hard to receive a permanent residence here. Most of the time, foreigners are allowed in Japan for a few years teaching English or doing an intern program before heading back to their home country.

People in the intern programs once only temporarily stayed in Japan, working in fields such as fishery or agriculture before returning. However, with Japan’s desperate need for more workers, legislation has changed. The government created kaigo residence status, which will allow foreigners in intern programs to permanently stay in Japan. However, it is not so simple. They still must be in the program for at least two years and pass a national board examination.

This is not new for Japan. Prior to this, workers from overseas was brought tin via the Economic Partnership Agreement. These types of economic agreements have been taking place since 2008. Previously, Japan only had two nursing programs with China. 

“The Japanese government has set a target of 10,000 of these Vietnamese workers in the nursing field by 2020.”

Native Japanese people typically do not pick this field of work. Elderly care workers do not only need to give care but also understand the emotional state of patients. The pay is not good, either. The average income is only around 270,000 yen, which is much less than other industries.

Recently, the Japanese government has set a target of 10,000 of these Vietnamese workers in the nursing field by 2020. The two countries already have an agreement.

Solving the Labor Shortage

Although the target of 10,000 will ease some of Japan’s labor shortages, it is not enough. Japan has already thought about including other South Asian countries into this mix. It can be hard to qualified in this program, as qualifications like basic Japanese language skills are required. Learn Japanese can prove difficult for many foreigners.

One way to combat these challenges is that some Japanese companies will pay for potential employees to learn the language, even before arriving in Japan.

With 500,000 more workers needed by 2025, this is a good start. 

Japan is not the only country in face of labor shortages and brining in foreign help. Many countries have or will follow suit. Korea for example, also notoriously known for a declining birth rate and an aging popular, has previously set up quotas to bring in workers. 

Today’s “otsumami” – a bite size snack:

Japan’s need for elderly care nurses will give more opportunities for foreigners in Japan.

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