Vietnamese caregivers rated best among Asian peers in Japan

By Hong Chieu   June 13, 2024 | 04:59 am PT
Vietnamese caregivers rated best among Asian peers in Japan
Laborers attend a Japanese language class in Hanoi to get ready for working in Japan, May 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh
Vietnamese caregivers working in Japanese hospitals have been rated the "best" among Asian trainees, according to an industry insider.

Takeshima Tenmi, chairman of Osaka Medical Care Association, recounted that in 2019, Japan initially planned to receive around 500 caregivers from Vietnam.

However, due to the pandemic, only 20 caregivers from three different cohorts have been able to work in Japanese medical facilities so far.

Despite the challenges of coming to work when the pandemic had just been under control, Vietnamese caregivers have been rated the best in terms of both skills and work ethic among trainees from various Asian countries, Takeshima told representatives of Vietnam’s Ministry of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs in Hanoi on Wednesday.

The 20 caregivers have been working under a three-year cooperation program between the Center for Overseas Labor of the ministry and the Osaka Medical Care Association that was initiated in 2019.

Of them, 13 from the first cohort are set to return to Vietnam as their contract will expire within one year.

Managers of hospitals where they are working at are concerned about finding replacements and hope these caregivers can soon return to work in Japan.

"We have not received any complaints from the hospitals about their [Vietnamese caregivers] performance; they all have done an excellent job," Takeshima said, expressing gratitude to Vietnam for sending such "outstanding" trainees.

Takeshima also mentioned that the association has surveyed the caregivers' intentions twice regarding their plans after returning to Vietnam.

Initially, 12 out of 13 expressed a desire to return home to be with their young children, aged 8 to 12, after being away for two years. However, in a follow-up survey in March, all of them indicated a willingness to return to Japan for work.

"The demand for caregivers in Japan is high, but finding suitable candidates is very challenging. We are constantly striving to recruit more trainees," Takeshima said, hoping to increase the number of trainees in the next five years.

During their meeting on Wednesday, representatives from Vietnam and Japan signed a non-profit agreement to supply skilled caregiving trainees to work in Japan. The goal is to increase the number of caregivers over the next five years to 500 individuals.

Deputy Minister of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs Nguyen Ba Hoan said that the period from 2019 to 2023 was considered a pilot phase, aiming to increase both the quantity and quality of trainees in the future.

"Vietnam aims to send at least 200 caregivers to Japan in the next three years. Those who complete their contracts successfully and wish to return to Japan for work will be given priority," he said.

Dang Huy Hong, director of the Center for Overseas Labor (Colab), announced that 40 nursing trainees would be selected this year to work in Japan. The new agreement will expand the recruitment pool and the conditions for selection.

He said previously, only graduates in the nursing sector were eligible, but now the program had expanded to choose graduates from public health and related fields.

High school graduates will be trained in nursing for a year to hone their skills and improve their Japanese before departure.

Vietnamese trainees will have their Japanese language learning costs (8-11 months to reach N4 level), exam fees, visa fees, and round-trip airfare covered by the Japanese side.

Once chosen, they will intern at healthcare facilities affiliated with the Osaka Medical Care Association or its partner hospitals in Japan. The salary is approximately VND36 million (US$1,410) per month, excluding allowances and overtime pay, along with benefits and insurance as per regulations.

"Colab is the only organization in Vietnam authorized to recruit labor for this program," Hong emphasized, warning workers to be cautious of false recruitment information to avoid being scammed.

Vietnam and Japan established official diplomatic relations in 1973.

Vietnam began sending workers to Japan in 1992 for three to five-year periods, with the average income currently reaching US$1,200-1,400 per month.

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