Japan Accepts Foreign Trainees As Nursing Care Regulars

Japan’s labor ministry will now allow foreign caregiver trainees to become regular employees of nursing care facilities after a six-month working period. The decision is brought forth to cater to the increasing number of elderly patients and residents.


The added manpower will enable nursing care facilities to accommodate more residents under the ministry ordinance that stipulates requirements for staff assignments. For instance, the ordinance orders special nursing homes to have one caregiver or nurse per three elderly residents.


Moreover, facilities under the ordinance will receive increased benefits from the nursing care insurance system. That means that those trainees who are considered as regular workers will be eligible to insurance payouts.


Photo credit to: https://www.japantimes.co.jp


Given the current shortage of caregivers in the country, some facilities can only accept a limited number of elderly residents.


During the subcommittee meeting of the Social Security Council last September 6, the measures they crafted are expected to help those caregiving facilities with staff shortage to speed up the hiring of trainees. Caregiving will be added to the foreign technical trainee program this month.


Under the current system, trainees are allowed to work in Japan for a maximum of five years. That same limit applies to caregiver trainees even if they are counted as regular employees. They must have a proficiency equivalent to the N4 level of Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) to certify that they can at least understand a Japanese conversation spoken at a relatively slow pace. They are mandated to training for a couple of months after their arrival in the country and then start working at caregiving facilities.


The new plan meanwhile regards trainees as regular employees after six months of working. If the trainees have an N2 level of JLPT and can understand news reports or daily conversations at an almost natural speed, they will be immediately counted as regular employees.


Some members at the subcommittee meeting are concerned that the safety of the elderly and the quality of service given to them would not be maintained under the speed up plan. The ministry said that they will analyze the situation after it implements the plan.


Due to various economic partnership agreements made by Japan with Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines, there are about 2,000 of them working in Japan’s caregiving industry as of April this year.


Japan’s central government strongly supports workers from these countries and provides a year of training sessions before and after their arrival in Japan. This arrangement was introduced under a program in 1993. The aim is to transfer skills and knowledge to developing countries through on-the- job training in industries like construction, manufacturing, agriculture and fisheries.


Lately, there have been criticisms both from Japanese and overseas about the program’s blindside on the exploitation of cheap labor and poor working conditions of the trainees. There are now more than 220,000 trainees working under the program.


This November, a new penal law takes effect to supervise companies accepting foreign trainees and ensure that they comply with the rules of the program.


Reference: Staff numbers to include foreign trainees to widen nursing care


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