Japan is the newest addition to the list of countries that are actively scouting and opening their doors for skilled Indian nurses and other healthcare support staff.
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With its healthcare sector grappling with a rapidly aging population, nurses from Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam currently dominate the job market for caregivers in Japan. Indian nurses and trained medical staff are now entering the market as well.
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“Salary that is eight to ten times the Indian remuneration, plus the chance to work and learn cutting edge medical technology for assisted care, and the ability to save anywhere between ₹40,000 to ₹1 lakh a month — these are the main attractions driving the Indian workforce to Japan,’’ said Abhishek Singh, COO, Learnet Skills Limited, a sending organisation for the Technical Intern Training Program (TITP) programme and a skill development venture.
More than 20% of Japan’s population is over 65 years, the world’s highest proportion of senior citizens. As per a report by McKinsey, Japan’s working-age population will decline to 71 million in 2025 from 79 million in 2012, and its dependency ratio is set to soar from 0.60 to 0.73 over the same period. There are not enough young people in Japan to fill this vacuum, due to the decline in its fertility rate. In response to this demographic situation, the government of Japan has taken up measures such as the TITP, which promotes the acceptance of foreign human resources, who acquire skills and knowledge by working as technical interns in Japan.
For Indian caregivers, Japan currently offers a three-year visa, which is extendable by two years. Caregivers who opt to stay back after that five year period must pass a language and nursing test to continue working in Japan.
Quality of life
Puspha Kumari, a health worker from Okhla, has done a short course in patient care, and is now working in Japan along with her sister. They are both happy with the opportunity, she told The Hindu.
“The respect and the quality of life are unmatched. Besides, it’s a beautiful country. Our work involves basic care of the elderly, like ensuring they have had food and water, checking vitals, including daily exercise. Food and culture are something we get used to very quickly, and we can also cook in our apartment,’’ she says. Ms. Kumari is aiming to study for her nurse’s certification in Japan or migrate to another country from there.
Joseline lpecha, who is undergoing training in West Bengal with the aim of working in Japan, says that apart from the pay and the global exposure, she was attracted to Japan because of the beauty of the country and the fact that it is safe for women.
“I plan to work in Japan for three years and then see how it goes. If all goes well, I will go back and prepare to advance my career there,’’ she said, speaking to The Hindu via an online call. Her elder sisters told her about the opportunity and they are trying to migrate to the United States, she added.
Exodus of nurses
According to Health Ministry data, one out of eight nurses from India practices in other countries. Around 88,000 Indian nurses are working in developed countries which belong to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Indian nurses also account for 8.3% of the foreign trained nurses in the U.S. and 8% of those in Singapore.
India skilling centres are working with students to offer language training and hand-hold them in learning the basic social etiquette required to integrate with an international workforce.