Life And Style: Wanted Caregivers

Japan’s nursing-care business is one of the high-growth sectors thanks to its rapidly ageing population. In five years’ time, the industry will require another 300,000 to 500,000 more workers.

Although there are jobs galore in Japan’s nursing-care business, there are few takers.

Low pay and working conditions that often stretch a caregiver’s patience and stamina to the limit scare away even those who view welfare work as a personal calling.

Ironically, the global downturn that has chilled Japanese exports and sent thousands of factory workers to unemployment lines may prove to be a godsend to nursing homes.

The government hopes to entice some of these retrenched workers to become caregivers. By March, the end of the Japanese fiscal year, about 80,000 factory workers are expected to be out of work, and more could join them if the economy worsens.

Japan’s nursing-care business is one of the high-growth sectors thanks to its rapidly ageing population. There are now about 1.1 million people working in the industry.

But in five years’ time, it is projected that the industry will require another 300,000 to 500,000 more workers. That is because the number of elderly Japanese requiring nursing-care services will rise to six million, up 1.5 million from the present figure.

The problem is how to make a caregiver’s job more attractive.

The government has set aside about 210 billion yen (US$2.3 billion) in this year’s budget to increase insurance payments to nursing-care providers by an average of 3%.

In theory, that should give each nursing-care worker a monthly pay hike of about 20,000 yen (US$224). Unfortunately, providers are not obliged to translate the increase in insurance payments into higher salaries.

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