To secure manpower in the nursing care sector, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry on Wednesday came up with a policy of offering interest-free loans to those studying nursing care or social welfare at colleges or vocational schools, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

The 400,000 yen financial loan package for each student will consist of two payments, 200,000 yen upon admission and another 200,000 yen upon graduation, sources said.

The ministry, hoping to address the worsening shortage of skilled caregivers in the country, aims to increase the number of students enrolled in licensed training courses for care-giving and social welfare courses at educational institutions by offering some assistance toward students’ school fees, the sources said.

The educational institutions, which include vocational schools, have seen their student intake for such courses halved in recent years, the sources added.

The target of the financial assistance will be new students enrolled in the courses between fiscal 2009 and fiscal 2011, and it is expected to cost the ministry about 30 billion yen for the three-year period.

The ministry’s latest policy will be introduced with the aim of expanding the current financial aid system implemented by prefectural and city governments, which offers students enrolled in certain courses including care-giving an interest-free loan up to a maximum of 36,000 yen per month to pay for school fees.

The ministry will raise the amount of these loans to a maximum of 50,000 yen per month, the sources said.

Both policies also will allow recipients of the financial aid to be exempted from repaying the loan if they work at a prefectural or city government nursing home or other nursing facilities for five years after graduation.

(Nov. 21, 2008)

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20081121TDY03301.htm

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