Skills in labour migration in East Asia: Japan attracts foreign talents
Japan is becoming a country of immigration. Because the society is aging and the economy is desperately seeking workers, the government is shifting its policy. The recruitment and labour integration of Vietnamese IT specialists is being studied by East Asia scholar Dr. Aimi Muranaka of the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE). She is part of a federally funded junior research group investigating the role of skills in migration processes in Asia.*
Japan has two percent of foreign residents. That’s low compared to the European countries, but their numbers have never been higher. Vietnamese are the third largest group after migrants from China and South Korea. New visa rules are intended to bring more foreign workforce into the country in the future. These workers will be given better treatment in terms of visa duration and family reunification. But they will also have to learn Japanese and pass exams on their expertise.
„Japan is very interested in Vietnam: firstly as a sales market for its products, and secondly because of its cheap and good workers. In Vietnam, on the other hand, the tech sector is growing tremendously,“ Dr. Muranaka explains. „A bilateral trade agreement between the two countries also makes easier for Vietnamese to work in Japan This applies to industries such as nursing and, as well as those where higher education is required, such as IT.“
In her project, which is funded with more than 500,000 euros, Muranaka is investigating how Vietnamese IT employees are recruited and integrated into the Japanese labor market. There is no government employment agency in Japan, but is done by private companies. The 31-year-old Japanese researcher would like to take a closer look at their role and that of language schools. „For example, there are placement companies that fund training programs for IT skills and Japanese at Vietnamese universities.“
„Similar to other foreign skilled labour in Japan, Vietnamese professionals do not have easier time integrating in the labour market due to different factors,“ the migration expert explains. “This includes the strong demand from Japanese employers to language proficiency and knowledge of Japanese business culture. Again, there are service providers who specialize in teaching this.“
* „’Skill’ in the Migration Process of Foreign Workers in Asia“ is led by Goethe University https://www.goethe-university-frankfurt.de/97186467/Understanding_skilled_labour_migration_in_East_Asia?locale=en . The junior research group, which includes a total of five scholars on East Asia, is funded for four years with 2 million euros from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
A photo of Dr. Muranaka (photo credit: private) is available here:
Dr. Aimi Muranaka, Institute of East Asian Studies IN-EAST, aimi.muranaka.@uni-due.de