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First group of foreign care worker trainees take written exam

41 Comments

The first 95 applicants for the health ministry's care worker training program took the written certification exam on Sunday.

The health ministry said that the 94 Indonesians and one Filipino, who arrived in 2008 and 2009, are allowed to stay in Japan for four years in total, but that in order to sit for the tests, they must have accrued three years' worth of on-the-job experience during their training period, TBS reported. As a result, Sunday marked their first and last opportunity to sit the exam.

The foreign care worker scheme was launched in an attempt to meet the shortage of care givers for Japan's growing elderly population.

The written test comprised 12 different subjects, including advanced kanji, the ministry said. Besides the written test, there is a further practical component to the test in March, after which the results will be announced on arch 28, TBS said.

The scheme has been criticized by some as being unrealistically demanding on students, who are expected to achieve a high level of fluency in Japanese despite having little time to study.

If candidates do not pass the exam, they have to return to their home countries.

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41 Comments
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There should be no need spending public money for training and examinations of care givers.

PM Noda says the government can't keep up with the pensions and health care benefits for Japan's elderly, and the other government officials are against tax hikes which will fund (in part) the elderly ... so there will be less budget for the elderly in the near future.

And TEPCO ... TEPCO needs many more trillions of yen from the government (and indirectly, from the consumers) for compensation, decommissioning the Fukushima NPP group, and repairs of the other plants.

The whaling research needs funds too, which will be taken again from the reconstruction fund or any other budget reallocations.

Japan already has too many costs to worry about, cancel the training program and re-channel the funds instead so the government's Fukushima investigation panel can buy some pencils and paper for their minutes.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I've got a better, cheaper idea than these troublesome and costly aptitude tests. Just adapt a load of pachinko machines, and for the one in 100 candidates who manage to win, there's a visa. The rest, get on that plane, and ask your relatives to come and sweat blood for peanuts. Practical, cheap, transparent (there's no pretence at the beginning that Japan actually expects to have to concede a real qualification at the end), and in the meantime, the trainees will keep coming in the Vegas spirit of I might just win.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Why must care takers be imported? What about giving employment to those people who lost their jobs after the earthquake?

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

How bad must it be in their own countries for them to even want to come here and work ridiculous hours for peanuts being treated like crap under the guise of "training" for 3 years, only to then be pushed through this charade with the ultimate prize being, well, working ridiculous hours for peanuts and being treated like crap?

Raise the profile of ALL nurses in this country regardless of whether they are Japanese or otherwise. Then there wont be a shortage in the first place. By all means have a language test but make it a realistic one. I care far more whether my future nurse wiping my drool and feeding me is a loving and caring person rather than whether she can correctly write some obscure kanji she will never use.

12 ( +12 / -1 )

I bet only one will pass it.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Nicky The problem there is that you're using logic and common sense, both of which are sadly lacking in situations such as this.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

I'd like to wish the one person that succeeds every congratulation.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Sunday marked their first and last opportunity to sit the exam.

So mot in the least bit restrictive then! Hope no one had caught the flu that day.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Why must care takers be imported? What about giving employment to those people who lost their jobs after the earthquake?

If you can find thousands of Japanese-born people willing to become care workers to meet the demand here - in a nation with the greyest population - I suggest you let the government know where they are! I hope some of these people pass the test, but with the requirements, I don't have high hopes. They always have the option of taking their excellent skills and services to any number of other joints that are crying out for such workers ie The middle east, Europe and Australia, etc. Better pay and conditions too.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@BurakuminDes

Actually, there are local residents who are working as care givers. Hello work has constant openings, but the pay is quite ridiculous considering the requirements and the responsibilities needed.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@ Elvensilvan - I know - probably over 95% of care workers are Japanese born - but there is a massive shortfall, and it is just not a profession Japanese kids want to go into. As you say - the pay and conditions are just garbage. I know a few of senior ladies in their early 60s who do this as a later-life career, and it is physically very, very tough on them. They have told me they have almost no younger workers ever starting at their very big nursing facility.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Nicky The problem there is that you're using logic and common sense, both of which are sadly lacking in situations such as this.

Dammit Bluebris - there I go again! I keep making that same mistake here! If I ever really want to assimilate properly into this society I am really going to have to learn to leave that logic and common sense bag at the gate as I go through customs....

2 ( +3 / -1 )

japanese young people have little interest in their own ageing relatives so they certainly arent going to be interested in helping others... there is no kawaii or kakkoi factor working here...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I don't get why a dime a dozen English teacher can easily renew their visa every year, but valued healthcare workers 3 years of on the job experience must pass a test to have their visas extended.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

@ moonbeams2 - English is the future...the old are a burden and non-productive members of society.

Seriously, being a caretaker is a very demanding job, both mentally and physically. My sister-in-law does it and works long, hard hours, has few holidays, and the helpers they get from a Japanese outsourcing company are worthless, if they bother to show up for work. She has told me that any foreigner that can talk, listen, and has some strength can do the job with a little training as long as there is a Japanese person on hand (for situations that might escalate.) She says medication, and other items can easily be printed with English or romaji, no kanji required.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There should be no need spending public money for training and examinations of care givers. Strongly disagree. No one in this country wants to do this job. People complain about not finding work but won't suffer under the working conditions and for the crappy pay these women will get if they pass. Incentive. Japan needs trained caregivers. Japan needs immigrations to help prop up the pension and health care system. Win/win. These workers will make more money than home and Japan will get more care givers.

I don't get why a dime a dozen English teacher can easily renew their visa every year, but valued healthcare workers 3 years of on the job experience must pass a test to have their visas extended. Perhaps because English teachers aren't killing medicine and working in life and death situations? Sadly, the Japanese system isn't like the rest of the world and embracing English for doctors/nurses/care givers in terms of meds and the like.

I think the system these women have gone through is poor but I can understand the need for them to have Japanese. I think they need more time and support though for language study.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

@moonbeams2

a dime a dozen English teacher can easily renew their visa every year, but valued healthcare workers 3 years of on the job experience must pass a test

It's because teachers don't have to speak any Japanese ... just be a native english speaker, or a certified english teacher and you get a position whether the students understand or not is not the teacher's problem, as long as the syllabus is followed.

But for care givers, you need to be able to converse with non-english speaking doctors, nurses and lots of other people aside from your patient.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There are 4 careworker candidates from Philippines working at nursing home in Shirakawa, Fukushima, through EPA program.Their families back home in Philippines are asking them to come back because of eathqukaes, radiation leak and everything. They say, "I'm not going back. Oba-chans here give us chocolate, notebooks for study... They are very nice to us."

One careworker candidate from Indonesia working at a hospital in Yamamoto-cho, Miyagi. She was told by the Indonesian embassy to go back to her country after 3.11. She refused and continued helping people in the evacuation centers and the hospital. She told Kyodo news, "People here teach me Japanese after work. They are very kind to me. I would like to help those people in need."

They are such a generous and dedicating group of people. The biggest problem is the test is very difficult. I'm sure certain Japanese proficiency is necessary, but the kanji test is just ridiculous. Who could read/write嚥下? Even average Japanese cannot read this word. There has been some improvement; the test is written simpler Japanese and there are furigana for kanji. (except Kanji test, of course) But I think a lot more improvement is necessary for more practical ways because we do need those foreign workers here in Japan and we should welcome those enthusiastic people willing to work here.

http://sankei.jp.msn.com/affairs/news/110329/dst11032909300011-n1.htm

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I guess the nurses get rather good medical training here, even though the conditions are abusive. Only one chance in four years is just unfair. And then the tiny fraction that passes the tests shall stay here and still be regarded second class citizen without any rights?

They should go away to a country that truly appreciates them. Japan is not good enough for them. Good nurses get jobs everywhere in the world. Switzerland and Norway import plenty of nurses from Germany. The payment is quite okay and they are respected for their skill instead of being treated as lower class as it happens here.

And imagine how happy a Japanese oyaji or obaasan would be, if she gets a nurse somewhere else who knows some basic Japanese that she even can state her condition without need of a translator. Given the fact how many people here don't speak even basic English, they should be grateful for any service abroad, where they can get Japanese language users treating to their needs.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japan is not good enough for them.

Johannes, as always, I agree with you! You just hammered the nail that sticks out on the head, to mix a metaphor.If I was one of these care assistants, I would just leave the Japanese to drown in their own poop. Bearing in mind the average age of the Japanese politician, they will many of them be in line for the ministrations of care assistants in a very few years, so they're even more than normally short-sighted not to provide for their own future.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I bet this test is a direct result of the actions by the "Robots for Nursing Care" lobby.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Best of luck to them! If they study hard they can do it. Japanese is the most difficult and complicated language in the world to learn, but it is also the most beautiful and rewarding. I hope they can pass!

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

How bad must it be in their own countries for them to even want to come here and work ridiculous hours for peanuts being treated like crap under the guise of "training" for 3 years,

HAHAHA where have you been working in Japan for all this time? some out of place gaishikei firm in Minato Ward with a Su6way Sandwich Bar and Schtarbucks on the ground floor lobby?

I'm sure certain Japanese proficiency is necessary, but the kanji test is just ridiculous. Who could read/write嚥下? Even average Japanese cannot read this word.

The average Japanese is working the till at your local combini or driving a truck around the town delivering your courier parcel. Surely, a nurse who attends to my health has some kind of education.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

As a Japanese I have to say that this strict rule imposed on the dedicated internationals must be reformed. I feel so sad whenever hearing the incompetent works from our government.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This is just a cop out by the government. They never intended to have any foreign health caretakers to begin with. It was just a ploy to give the illusion that Japan has progressed in the immigration/racial arena, as it's perenially at the bottom of the list of "open" countries. Otherwise the tests would be more realistic and the applicants would actually be able to pass it. As it is now, even Japanese applicants would have trouble making the grade!! What a farce!!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

If a significant percentage of Japanese people must rely on foreigners for personal care, the language onus should be upon the receivers. What? Is Mombusho's English regimen coming up short on efficacy?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

They are "allowed to stay in Japan for four years in total, but that in order to sit for the tests, they must have accrued three years’ worth of on-the-job experience during their training period, TBS reported. As a result, Sunday marked their first and last opportunity to sit the exam." Er, I'm not too good at maths, but actually that should read their SECOND and last opportunity. This enlightened govt. did eventually realize that giving them just one chance to pass, then kicking them out was rather silly. So they extended their permitted stay to 4 years to give them a second chance to learn enough kanji to change an incontinence bag. This was all reported the other day on the 9 o'clock comedy show aka "NewsWatch 9".

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Needy customers living in a insular need.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I have been told that close to a million people in Japan have nursing qualifications, yet only about 30% of those people actually work as nurses. That is a shame that must be addressed. If I were the parents of a nursing professional from Indonesia or the Philippines, I would surely be wary about allowing my son or daughter enter such a toxic environment.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Spending so much taxpayer money to train them for 3 years, then just toss them out if they don't pass the difficult test on the first try? That's like paying a student thru medical school then tossing the doctor plan all out if he/she doesn't pass the board exam on the first try.

What a waste of everybody's time and money.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have been told that close to a million people in Japan have nursing qualifications, yet only about 30% of those people actually work as nurses.

If Japan had more daycares for working moms, encouraged women to continue working and paid them a decent wage (and get rid of that day 1.3 salary cap), I think we'd see more in the field. It isn't very attractive is it - dealing with old people who are mentally unstable, have physical issues and well die in the end.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Amen, Tmarie, amen!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This article has nothing to do with nurses (看護師). This article is about care takers (介護士).

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Care workers, I mean.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The real intention is get these potential candidates, successful or not in passing the exams, to work as 'apprentices' ( dirt cheap workers without social protection / rights ) drying three years prior to the exams. Revolving supply of cheap workers guaranteed..

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@ PT - you've hit the proverbial nail on the head I reckon! I suspect these "trial programmes" will be a rolling project for as long as the scheme keeps providing cheap-as-chips labour - a few smart alecks (maybe 1 in 200) will "slip under the net" and pass the test, much to the chagrin of the bureaucrats.

The primary reason this system is doomed to fail is that there just happens to be another greying nation next-door, becoming richer and more middle-class by the day, with more than 10 times the population of Japan - that is going to be luring these health care professionals on a massive scale in the next couple of decades...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

CrazyJoe, maybe you are right, but reading this makes it a bit confusing.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120131a3.html

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Crazy, from my understanding, many nurses going into day workings and vice versa (once trained).

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The real intention is get these potential candidates, successful or not in passing the exams, to work as 'apprentices' ( dirt cheap workers without social protection / rights ) drying three years prior to the exams. Revolving supply of cheap workers guaranteed.

Most of the foreign carers were unemployed in their homeland. They are unskilled and have very little hopes for getting the full time employment. Someone who want to work in the Age care industry, they need to be trained , passing the assessment and improve their communication skills. That regulation existed not only in Japan, many developed nations like north America, Europe and Australia or New Zealand. Becoming the Japanese resident and getting stable employment is a golden opportunity for them.

Aged care is not a rocket science however one mistake can cause someone nightmare and unending suffering. High level of accuracy and attention is paramount for that industry. Besides that they were not forced to come to Japan for training and employment. It was their choice for coming and working here. Therefore they have to be grateful for once in life time opportunity.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Most of the foreign carers were unemployed in their homeland. They are unskilled and have very little hopes for getting the full time employment.

Where did you come up with this nonsense? Please read some articles on this issue - many have been published over the years - about these workers/trainees. You will find the are ALL skilled - in fact, a good many of them are much, much more qualified than their Japanese co-workers. Some of them are Senior Nurses with lots of experience back in Indonesia. If you don't wan't foreigners here - just be honest and state it - don't go and make up lies claiming that these workers have no skills.

I will leave you with this thought: when you have retired and your family have shuffled you off to the nursing home, who do you think is going to be around to change your diapers? Robots?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

They should do this for doctors. The number of doctors in japan is also on the decline.

I hope the test is not to unnecessarily difficult.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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