EPA nursing caregivers get visa boost
TOKYO (The Japan News/ANN) - The government has decided foreign nursing care workers who come to Japan under economic partnership agreements and have about four years of work and training experience here can switch to the new “specified skills” resident status (see below) without taking the required exams, provided they meet certain conditions.
The government has decided foreign nursing care workers who come to Japan under economic partnership agreements and have about four years of work and training experience here can switch to the new “specified skills” resident status (see below) without taking the required exams, provided they meet certain conditions.
The move is aimed at alleviating the labor shortage in the nursing care sector by harnessing the new resident status introduced in April.
Foreigners who came to Japan under an EPA previously had to return to their home nation if they do not pass the national exam for nursing care workers, but the government has decided foreign personnel who have acquired practical domestic experience could be quickly utilized to beef up the sector’s workforce.
Acquiring the specified skills status requires passing a Japanese proficiency exam and a newly launched nursing care techniques exam, or accumulating at least three years of experience as a nursing care technical intern.
However, the new exam started in April, and the results will be known sometime in May. It will be 2021 or later when the technical interns chalk up the required three years or more of required experience. Consequently, personnel who come to Japan under EPAs also could become the first batch of foreign workers to reside here under the specified skills status for nursing care workers.
Since Japan starting accepting candidates to be certified care workers under EPAs in fiscal 2008, about 4,300 such people have arrived from Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.
They are permitted to stay in Japan for a maximum of five years, during which they can take the national exam for care workers twice.
So far, 1,724 people have taken the exams — 985 passed and 739 failed. Successful examinees may continue working as care workers here permanently, but those who fail must return to their home country. They can take the exams again but must come to Japan to do so.
The government has determined that even those who failed the exam have completed about four years of work and training in Japan, and therefore have the necessary knowledge and experience equal to or above the standard needed for the specified skills status.
The government revised the operational guidelines to exempt workers from taking the specified skills exam provided they met certain conditions, such as scoring 50 percent or higher of the passing mark in the most recent exam.
Acquiring the specified skills status enables the bearer to work in Japan for a maximum of five years, during which they also can take the national exam for care workers.
“Specified skills” resident status
A new resident status introduced in April available to workers in 14 industries, including agriculture and construction. Acquiring this status requires passing a technical skills test and a Japanese proficiency exam. Exams for three industries — nursing care, accommodation and food service — began in April. Japan is forecast to reach a shortfall of about 340,000 nursing care workers in fiscal 2025.