Photo/Illutration Technical intern trainees clean fish at this plant in Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture. (Kengo Kamo)

The Immigration Services Agency announced a new service to help technical intern trainees who lost their jobs because of fallout from the new coronavirus outbreak.

Foreign nationals who entered Japan under a specified skills visa that began last year will also be covered by the program that will in effect match those looking for jobs with companies and other entities unable to fill positions. This stems from stricter entry regulations that have seen foreign technical intern trainee arrivals plummet.

Normally, technical intern trainees who lose their jobs can only look for work in the same field. If they do not find a new job, they are obliged to return home as the reason from granting the visa no longer remains valid.

However, under the new program to start from April 20, the Immigration Services Agency will relax the ban on finding work in new business areas.

The agency will begin by collecting information from technical intern trainees who lost their jobs, but want to continue working in Japan. That information will be submitted to industrial organizations representing 14 sectors, such as farming and elderly care services that face personnel shortages, or local governments. Those organizations will then release the personnel data to companies seeking workers.

The new service will also cover foreign students who had prospective job offers suddenly revoked due to the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.

Foreign nationals who find new jobs will be given the specified skills visa that allows them to work for up to a year and receive wages at least at the same level as those paid to Japanese workers.

As of the end of 2019, there were a record 410,000 or so technical intern trainees in Japan and 2,994 foreign nationals with the specified skills visa as of the end of February 2020.