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2009年1月 5日 (月)



--The Asahi Shimbun, Jan. 3(IHT/Asahi: January 5,2009)

EDITORIAL: Job training important


In the final days of 2008, job seekers rushed to temporary counters at government Hello Work employment centers set up on an emergency basis. We suspect there were many desperate people, seeking any job they could find to make it through another day.


However, it would be better if there were more options for job seekers so people who lost their jobs could learn new vocational skills. This would help them embark on a new path with their futures in sight.


In recent years, European countries have placed job training at the center of their employment policies. The aim is to reduce dependence on the dole while building a skilled labor force to help expand the job market.


If unemployment benefits funded by employment insurance are like a safety net that catches and saves people that fall off a rope, then job training might be called a trampoline that helps people jump back onto the rope after they fall.


In Japan, however, the safety net is torn, and job training, which should serve as a trampoline, does not fully work.


On the frontline of Japan's manufacturing industry, the skills to make things have been handed down at each individual company.


However, those companies do not offer training to their temporary workers. Non-regular workers in the service industries are given only simple tasks, and there is little opportunity to acquire sufficient skills.


On the other hand, there are about 150,000 people that receive public job training each year. There are job training courses that teach mold-making, welding, housing improvement, bookkeeping and others.

In recent years, there are also training courses that teach nursing care services. Only 30 percent of the courses are provided at facilities owned by the central or local governments themselves, and the rest are being increasingly outsourced to the private sector.


The problem is how to support oneself during training. There are about 17 million nonregular workers now, as many as a third of the entire workforce. Yet, a majority of these nonregular workers are not eligible for unemployment insurance. So, they must be concerned with living expenses from the day they start their job training.


Many of these nonregular workers have no chance to improve their job skills, and have no choice but to flit from job to job, always anxious about their future. Japan's economy will lose enormous potential for years ahead if this continues.


To overcome these difficult times and for society to regain its peace of mind, the hole in the employment safety net must be mended and a system must be created to provide job training to anyone who wants it.


Measures should also be taken to make it easier for nonregular workers to join the employment insurance scheme.


While much broader opportunities for job training are a must, there must also be a system to provide trainees with living expenses during training. We urge the government to implement these policies without fail.


The government earlier decided to merge the Employment and Human Resources Development Organization of Japan (EHDO), an independent administrative agency, with another independent administrative agency after EHDO was roundly criticized for building expensive leisure resorts. The combined entity will specialize in providing job training for the manufacturing sector.


The organization wasted vast amounts of money. Continued reform is necessary while removing superfluous, overlapping central and local government activities.


Since Japan is a country with few natural resources, it has no choice but to become a country built on skilled labor. The country should try to turn this recession into an opportunity for the future.



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