Young, disinclined to work? ‘Camp’ awaits


The Associated Press

They will stay for three months, keeping to a strict daily regimen, eating together and learning about self-discipline, work ethics and job-hunting.

Welcome to boot camp for the young and out-of-work.

It’s the latest idea from the Health, Welfare and Labor Ministry to keep the nation’s jobless twentysomethings busy and off the state dole.

Under a proposed plan, the government would spend up to 20 billion yen next year on sending the first 2,000 candidates for training at some 40 designated camps.

Over five years, the budget would rise as the program expands to include some 20,000 trainees and dozens of businesses and organizations, a ministry official said on condition of anonymity.

The program is designed to reverse a growing trend among young Japanese who show no interest in having a job. In the past decade, the number of young people who say they have no intention of working has surged 60 percent to 640,000, from around 400,000 in the early 1990s, according to government statistics.

Those figures have risen as Japan struggles to turn its economy around after a decade-long slowdown led to corporate job cuts and the end to its traditional “lifetime employment” system.

Overall unemployment remains near postwar record highs.

In July, the jobless rate rose to 4.9 percent, having stood at 4.6 percent in May and June. That’s not too far off the 5.5 percent reached in recent years, the highest since the government began keeping track in the 1950s.

To help workers, officials have been experimenting with a slew of state-funded back-to-work projects.

Although details of the youth program won’t be finalized until the Cabinet approves the next fiscal year’s budget in the coming months, it’s unlikely to be much fun.

Those who sign on will stay with about 20 others for an intensive three-week course, learning the basics of self-reliance, the ministry official said.

They will also be taught self-discipline, ethics and work etiquette, and will get support looking for jobs. Food will be their only cost, he added.

Organizations and companies running the camps will be paid extra for enrollees who stay employed after the program, the official said.