Japan to conduct skills test for workers in Sri Lanka

The Government of Japan will be sending a team of officials to Sri Lanka in the near future to conduct skills tests for qualified workers under a Memorandum of Corporation (MoC) signed with the Government of Sri Lankan in June.

Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau Deputy General Manager R.K.K.M.P. Randeniya told The Sunday Morning Business that preparatory work for the skills test is being carried out at the moment and upon completion, the Japanese Government will announce dates for the skills test.

The preparatory work includes the formulation of a database that would divide qualified applicants across 14 job categories under which 72 occupations are listed.

The categories include caregiving, cleaning, the hotel industry, machine parts and tooling industries, ship building and ship machinery industry, aviation, the electric, electronic, and information industry, accommodation industry, agriculture, fishery and aquaculture, construction, the food and beverage manufacturing, and food service industries.

The candidates who sit for the skills test would be required to possess both vocational and Japanese language proficiency to pass.

“We did not implement any particular training programmes for this purpose because we already have Japanese language training courses and other relevant vocational programmes. Candidates can enrol and acquire the required qualification,” Randeniya added.

The MoC was inked between Minister of Telecommunication, Foreign Employment, and Sports Harin Fernando and Minister of Justice of Japan Takashi Yamashita on 19 June 2019.

The agreement is titled “Basic Framework for Information Partnership for Proper Operation of the System pertaining to Foreign Human Resources with the Status of Residence of ‘Specified Skilled Worker’”.

The purpose of this MoC is to establish a basic framework for information partnership in order to ensure the smooth and proper sending and accepting of specified skilled workers – in particular, the elimination of malicious intermediary organisations – and resolve the problems of specified skilled workers being sent, accepted, and residing in Japan.

Under the agreement, Sri Lanka expects to send workers to Japan as an alternative to the Middle East, which has been plagued by domestic worker abuse issues for decades.

Randeniya noted that the number of work visas which would be issued under this programme is unpredictable as the workers would be sent to Japan depending on the vacancies available. They would be initially provided with a five-year visa under this programme, which will be extended up to 10 years based on the performance of the worker.

According to Randeniya, the benefit for Japan from the MoC is that they would be able to fulfil their human resources needs.

A key advisor to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently noted that with a rapidly declining and aging population, Japan needs more foreign workers, forecasting that the country’s working age population would fall by an average of 1.1% a year over the next 50 years.

New Japanese visa regulations came into effect on 1 April, allowing more migrant workers to enter Japan and take thousands of jobs currently unfilled. Under the new system, the Japanese Government plans to take in up to 345,000 foreign workers.