Skills training necessary for workers hit hard by pandemic to find new jobs

It is important to support non-regular employees, who have been hit hard by the novel coronavirus pandemic, in improving their skills so that they can secure stable jobs.

The government has decided to implement measures costing a total of ¥400 billion over three years to lend its support to people who want to acquire new career skills and find a job. About ¥100 billion has been earmarked in a supplementary budget proposal for the current fiscal year.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida advocates “a new form of capitalism,” mapping out a policy to emphasize investment in people and wealth distribution. The envisaged measures are set to be part of this initiative.

The central pillar of the measures is the establishment of a program to support non-regular workers in finding new lines of work. The idea is that temp agencies first provide job seekers with training such as computer instruction courses and then dispatch them to new workplaces as temporary employees on a trial basis, with the prospect of them eventually being hired directly by those companies.

Under the envisaged program, the government will bear part of the training costs and also provide financial incentives to companies that accept workers. It expects that 100,000 people will use the program.

Non-regular employees mainly in the restaurant and lodging industries have been dealt a blow by the pandemic. There are many cases in which people who have lost their job face difficulties when they try to work in other sectors, such as working as a clerk, because they lack experience. It is understandable that the measures are aimed at making it easier for such people to find jobs in different sectors.

The question is how many people can get the job they want through this program. Temp agencies bear great responsibility to provide training that leads to stable employment.

It is desirable for the government to support job seekers in such a way that they can become regular workers, rather than finding one non-regular job after another. It needs to carefully examine the content of the training and how many people were actually able to secure regular employment as a result.

The government will also ease the requirements for using the current system that supports job seekers.

The current system provides non-regular employees and others who have left or lost their job with monthly benefits of ¥100,000 as well as job training, but the payment ceases if they are absent from training. In response to calls from people who said they have no choice but to miss training because they have to take children to and from day care, among other reasons, recipients will be allowed to be absent for up to 20% of the period of the training course.

It is concerning that the system has not been used much. Despite the goal of 50,000 users set for this fiscal year, only 15,000 people had used it by the end of October. Further efforts should be taken to improve and expand training in IT and other fields and make the system more widely known.

From January next year and beyond, the government plans to scale back special measures for employment adjustment subsidies, the amount of which was raised amid the pandemic.

To partially cover leave allowances, subsidies are provided to firms that let their employees take leave instead of terminating their employment. Some have said that the measures have curbed unemployment, but at the same time, they are hindering the transfer of workers. It is hoped that the government will flexibly review the relevant measures while keeping an eye on the employment situation.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on Dec. 6, 2021.