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Working conditions cause health care worker shortage

Date Posted: 2008-09-26

Okinawa is facing a shortage of health care workers, particularly those serving elderly citizens, and working conditions are being labeled a prime reason for young people shying away from the profession.

The number of students enrolling in health care classes is declining not only in Okinawa, but in mainland Japan, as well. Workers are telling schools “The worker salaries in the men’s care area is so low, a worker can’t take care of his family, even if he likes working at day care centers.” Another common complaint is that day care workers “quickly change jobs and working places as soon as they can.”

A consistent standard of qualifications is concerning health care workers, as well. The requirements and qualifications vary for many workers, leading to calls for a nationwide standard such as is in place for nurses. School owners are calling on the government to support them, making new rules that credit workers for their experience and qualifications. “People need to know that care workers need recognition for their diversificational value and responsibility,” said one owner.

Enhancing the social status of day care workers is essential to motivating people to enter the field, said another owner. Japan is currently drawing students from foreign countries to fill the growing need in day care centers.

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