The government is considering allowing more foreign workers in the manufacturing industry under a new system aimed at opening Japan's labor market to blue-collar workers from abroad, government sources said Friday.

The idea has emerged as the government is devising a new residential status to accept more foreign workers amid the shrinking working-age population. The government is aiming to start operating the new system in April 2019.

The system was initially designed to cover five industries — agriculture, construction, lodging, nursing and shipbuilding — but the sources said small businesses engaging in metal processing may be added to the list as they are also facing a serious labor shortage.