The Yomiuri ShimbunThe number of foreign students enrolling in schools to become certified nursing care workers (see below), who assume leadership roles in the field, has doubled this academic year, amid a record-low enrollment of Japanese students.
Foreign students account for a sixth of the total figure enrolled, according to a survey by the Japan Association of Training Institutions for Certified Care Workers. While overseas interest in the Japanese nursing care industry is rising, there has been no end to the decline in the number of young Japanese people aspiring to become nursing care workers.
The Tokyo-based association conducted a survey involving 365 universities and vocational schools across the nation that offer training courses to become nursing care workers.
The enrollment this academic year was 6,856, down for the fifth consecutive year. Only 44.2 percent of available slots were filled.
Meanwhile, the number of foreign students who enrolled in such schools this academic year doubled from the previous year to 1,142, comprising 16.7 percent of the total figure.
Twenty nationalities are represented among the intake of foreign enrollees, with the highest number of 542 coming from Vietnam, followed by 167 from China and 95 from Nepal.
The sharp increase is believed to be linked to a revision in the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law in September last year that made “nursing care worker” an eligible occupation for foreign nationals to obtain residence status.
Foreigners who became qualified nursing care workers after studying in Japan and were hired here can obtain a residency status for up to five years, and can renew their status indefinitely.
In November last year, nursing care was added as a subject of the Technical Intern Training Program, subsequently increasing the demand for certified instructors who can teach trainees in foreign languages. Such a move is expected to lead to improved employment terms for instructors — another motivation for foreigners to study in the field.
Conversely, the decline in the number of Japanese students enrolling in training schools persists.
Toyo University Associate Prof. Tatsuaki Takano, an expert on welfare for elderly people, said: “The [nursing care worker] certification is an important qualification from the viewpoint of securing highly specialized care workers. We need to improve working conditions and the image [of the industry].”
■ Nursing care worker certification
A national qualification related to nursing care for elderly people and people with disabilities. Qualified care workers have specialized knowledge and skills in nursing care services and are expected to play important roles as leaders in the field of nursing care, such as providing instructions to other nursing care staff.Speech