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Japan to extend provisional certification for graduate care workers

Japan's welfare ministry plans to extend special transitional measures to fiscal 2026 that grant graduates of elderly care courses provisional certification without the need to pass a national exam, as part of efforts to alleviate a labor shortage in the sector, ministry sources said Sunday.
Officials hope that extending the measures, which were originally scheduled to end in fiscal 2021 through March 2022, will encourage an increasing number of foreigners to work in Japan after graduating from universities and vocational schools that train elderly care workers, the sources said.
The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare will submit a bill on the matter to the ordinary parliamentary session set to convene Monday.
With Japan expected to face a shortage of around 340,000 care workers by 2025, when the minimum age of the baby boomer generation will be 75, the government is pinning its hopes on the workplace-ready skills of graduates from training schools.
Ruling party lawmakers as well as related groups have expressed concern that the number of foreigners applying for elderly care courses will drop if the national exam is made compulsory. Others, however, argue passing the exam is essential to ensuring the quality of care.
Foreign students admitted by training schools in April 2019 totaled 2,037, double the figure of the year before, according to the Japan Association of Training Institutions for Certified Care Workers.
Students from Vietnam accounted for 1,142, followed by 212 from China, 203 from Nepal, 163 from the Philippines and 106 from Indonesia.
But the pass rate for the national exam has remained low among foreigners, who struggle with Japanese terminology.
While among Japanese care workers it hovers around 90 percent, the average pass rate for foreigners was about 35 percent in the past two years.
"Even without passing the exam, (foreign care workers) perform well enough," an association staffer said.
Previously, those who graduated from a training school were automatically eligible for certification. But a legal revision in 2016 made passing the state exam an additional prerequisite for those graduating in fiscal 2022 or later.
Special transitional measures effective during the five-year period from fiscal 2017 stipulate that those who pass the exam within five years of graduating or work in the field of elderly care for five years after graduating can maintain their certified status.


© KYODO
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