Foreign Nurse’s Language Skills remain Concerning

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While a new visa system approved by the Diet and to take effect in April has been welcomed by Japan’s labor-short nursing care businesses, questions remain about how to provide sufficient Japanese language education for foreign workers.


Regardless of Japan taking steps taken in recent years to relax rules on foreign workers in the sector, language skills have been a major barrier. Vu Thi Thu Trang from Vietnam is among the people who could obtain working status after the government eased the requirement for foreigners to work as caregivers.


A 31-year-old certified caregiver came to Japan in 2014 first found out about nursing care work while studying at a Japanese language school. She decided to enroll in a caregiver vocational school and finished a two-year curriculum earlier this year.


Foreign students who achieved their course curriculum and became certified caregivers were not eligible to remain in Japan for work until a legal amendment in September last year. Unfortunately, the relaxed rule did little, if anything, to address the labor shortage for nursing facilities.


There are two ways for foreigners to work as caregivers in Japan. The first is to participate in a work program provided under economic partnership agreements and gain a certificate while working at a nursing home. The second, and easiest option, is to use Japan’s technical intern program.


Those who passed a national caregiver exam to become certified during their stay under the EPA program which totaled 719 caregivers since 2008 and 2017.


The first type of resident status, valid for up to five years, is for people who engage in work that requires a certain level of knowledge including nursing care. The second type is for work that needs higher-level skills.


Working status applicants are required to pass a set of Japanese-language and technical exams.


Reference: Language skills remain major concern for foreign nursing care workers


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