Skills and digitalisation in the care sector discussed in EU Japan labour consultation

bilateral labour consultation between the EU and Japan

(20 September 2023) Last week, EPSU participated in a bilateral labour consultation between the EU and Japan on ‘upskilling and reskilling for the socio-economic transition.’ The EU and Japanese delegations exchanged views and practices on key topics such as challenges and direction for future upskilling and reskilling.

One session was dedicated specifically to skills development for a demographic change, with EPSU and the Social Employers to provide the views of social partners in the care sector. EPSU highlighted the need to address not only skills gaps in long-term care, but also working conditions, low salaries and precarious employment in order to recruit and retain an adequate work force and address crippling staff shortages. Other key messages were the need for skills development to be linked to career progression, and for trainings to be developed in cooperation with social partners.

On the Japanese side, speakers from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare outlined a number of technologies being introduced in the care sector help the ageing population, including a ‘robot seal’ for people with Dementia and Alzheimer. From the Japanese social partners, a colleague from the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, Rengo, Mr. Yamawaki, explained a number of initiatives to improve working conditions for the ageing care workforce.

The need to address not only skills but also poor working conditions and low salaries across key sectors was repeated throughout the day. Ludovic Voet from the ETUC and Dr Jorg Markowitsch from 3S Research and Consulting also highlighted that skills and training are only part of the solution.

The European delegation was composed of representatives of the European Commission, representatives of EU Member States administrations, and social partners including EPSU, ETUC on the union side and Social Employers and Business Europe on the employers side. The Japanese delegation included representatives of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, representatives of the Mission of Japan to the EU, and Japanese social partners.