Japan govt to help recruit child care workers amid major shortage

JAPAN - The government plans to introduce measures to recruit licensed but unemployed child care workers as part of efforts to eliminate a shortfall in day care staff, it has been learned.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry aims to set up a countermeasures desk at Hello Work job placement offices in areas that have many children on waiting lists for certified day care centers.

Under the envisaged plan, Hello Work offices are expected to dispatch its officials to understaffed day care centers to give advice about the improvement of labour conditions, among other things.

The government aims to reduce the number of children on waiting lists for day care centers to zero.

However, it is feared that another 74,000 child care workers will be needed to do so, according to the ministry.

There are about 700,000 nursery workers nationwide who have a license but are not currently employed in the industry.

Amid a severe shortfall in child care workers, the effective ratio of jobs to job applicants exceeded 1 in January in Tokyo and 33 prefectures.

The shortage of human resources is believed to result from low wages and working conditions that make it difficult to take vacations and for female employees to handle both a career and raising children.

Thus the ministry plans to set up a countermeasures desk at 112 Hello Work offices to cover local governments with more than 50 children on waiting lists.

The government has introduced a subsidy system this fiscal year that is expected to increase monthly wages for child care workers by between ¥8,000 and ¥10,000.

The Hello Work countermeasures desk will urge child care centers to utilize the system and send its staff to centers that cannot fill open positions to give advice about improving labour conditions.

Under the programme, Hello Work offices and local governments are to share information about child care centers.

For example, if a Hello Work office is informed that a new day care centre can be opened if one more worker is secured, the office will recommend a job candidate on a preferential basis.

Hello Work offices also will strengthen internal cooperation within their network to help people find jobs beyond the regional scope of each office.

The government has also been studying the creation of a scheme to offer job placement with the aid of prefectural governments and child care worker training schools.

They will ask qualified candidates whether they wish to take a job and Hello Work offices will offer job placement to those who are interested.

This fiscal year, the government embarked on a plan to urgently reduce the number of children on waiting lists for certified day care centers to zero by the end of fiscal 2017, accommodating 26.5 million children, or 400,000 more than the current quota.

If the plan is to be realised, a total of about 460,000 child care workers are required, leaving a shortfall of 74,000.