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Women who have spent years away from the office raising children are enrolling in specialized job-training programs, hoping these can help them re-enter the workforce.

One such course, Kwansei Gakuin University’s “Happy Career Program,” has seen women with university degrees ranging in age from their 20s to 50s sign up.

Housewives account for some 60 percent of the students enrolled. Many quit their jobs after giving birth, but now wish to return to the work world.

The program at the university with branches in the Kansai region lasts six months. It includes classes in information technology, accounting and other jobs in the financial sector.

To date, most who have completed the program have found jobs, including nonregular employment.

Noriko Katsuda, 51, started working in 2012 as a youth career counselor after completing the program.

Katsuda had previously worked for a drugmaker and a newspaper, but quit after becoming pregnant. During her 14 years as a housewife, Katsuda said she had “always envied those who were working.”

“This job enables me to meet a wider range of people,” she said. “It’s rewarding.”

Chika Shima, who was a homemaker for 16 years after quitting her job with a brokerage, found work in the finance and accounting section of an electrical equipment importer in 2013 after completing the program.

“I’d like to let my two daughters know that there are a number of options out there other than being a housewife,” the 46-year-old Shima said. “You can always start over.”

At Japan Women’s University in Tokyo, those with nonregular jobs are also enrolling in a similar program.

The university offers a one-year course in business English, information technology and risk management.

A 33-year-old woman taking part in the program said she had studied psychology in college and then worked at a restaurant. After quitting the restaurant job, she took a position as a contract worker.

“I want to learn the skills to become a full-time employee,” she said.

Mako Takato, head of the university’s lifelong learning center, said there is a huge demand for the program among women in contract jobs who have never worked as full-time employees.

“There needs to be a plan that supports all women who want to have another try,” Takato said.

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