Activity reports E-mail magazine

Japanese Government Presents Proposal for New Skill Developing Program for Foreign Workers


On February 9th, the Japanese government unveiled a proposal for a new system aimed at skill development for foreign workers. Prior to this announcement, the Expert Committee established by the government had made recommendations in November 2023.

To date, skill development for foreign workers in Japan has largely been carried out through the “Technical Intern Training Program” (TITP). In 2022, 343 thousand foreign workers were employed through this program, representing around 18.8% of the 1.823 million foreign workers in Japan. When analyzed by industry, manufacturing accounted for the top with 26.6%, followed by wholesale and retail at 13.1%, and accommodation and food service at 11.5%.

Originally intended to promote international cooperation in skill development, TITP transformed into a system aimed at compensating for severe labor shortages. Examining the reality of employment under this program revealed challenging working conditions, prohibitions on changing jobs leading to many cases of workers disappearing, and concerns about human rights violations.

Moreover, foreign workers completing the three-year TITP were supposed to transition to the more advanced Specified Skilled Worker Program (SSW) upon passing an exam. However, with TITP covering 90 job categories while SSW only including 12, the two programs lacked proper alignment, posing issues with the overall system’s consistency.

Under the government’s proposal, TITP would be abolished and a new Skill Developing Worker Program (SDW) introduced, accompanied by a comprehensive review of the entire system. The SDW is expected to offer a three-year employment period, allowing job changes after one or two years. Following the SDW, passing an exam would enable a transition to the Specified Skilled Worker Program (SSW) for approximately five years. Subsequently, transitioning to a higher-level SSW would provide not only job mobility but also the opportunity to bring family members.

The Japanese Trade Union Confederation stated, “We seek fundamental improvement of the system and will continue to advocate for the protection of human rights of foreign workers,” on the recommendations of the Expert Committee. The Japan Business Federation expressed its appreciation, but emphasized the need to attract foreign workers strategically, coupled with ensuring human rights and supporting living environments.