More than two and a half years have passed since the enforcement of the Technical Intern Training Act in November 2017, which sets the training period for foreign technical intern trainees to a maximum of five years, and many trainees who have reached their fifth year are taking a test equivalent to the second grade of the technical skills test before finishing their training. Reinforcing bar construction trainees in Hokkaido have also taken the technical skills test (2nd grade) in various places. By early August, nine trainees had taken the test and five Vietnamese had passed the test. For the trainees, the academic test, which requires Japanese reading comprehension, were a big barrier, but with the support of their host companies, they were able to overcome it successfully.
(Chikara Osaka, Construction/Administration Department; Yasushi Monma, Asahikawa Branch Office)
Bui Huu Hiep (30) and Lo Thanh Hung (26), who work for Seiken Kogyo (Asahikawa), Nguyen Thanh Tiep (28) and Nguyen Dinh Hoa (27) of Chuo Tekken (Sapporo), and Le Quang Dao (32) of Niwa Tekkin Kogyo (Obihiro) have passed the second-grade skill test of reinforcing bar construction (reinforcing bar assembly work).
Hiep and Hung of Seiken Kogyo practiced carefully for the practical test for one week before the main test. The company also provided extensive support by preparing practice places and materials. At first, Hiep and Hung could not finish in the given time, but as they practiced, their skill improved enough to finish in time.
However, the hurdle for the two was higher in the academic test. Since the questions are given in Japanese, it is necessary to have the ability to read Japanese sentences, and it is also required to understand technical terms that are not found in general dictionaries.
So, when they found a word they didn’t understand, they would take its picture and use a translation app on their smartphone to increase their vocabulary. They studied hard assuming that the questions would be more complicated than in the third-grade academic test
Thanks to such efforts, both of them passed the test. Hiep said with a big smile, “I’m happy. I’m glad I passed.”
Tiep and Hoa of Chuo Tekken also practiced in between work under the guidance of the foreman at the company’s Ishikari Processing Center.
Both of them passed the practical skill test, but failed the academic test. Although they had acquired the skills to pass the test, their language skills prevented them making it through.
The two were saddened by the news of the failure, but construction manager Kazuya Endo, who is Hoa’s boss, told them that even Japanese people fail the test, so they should try again. With the encouragement of people around them, they re-took the academic test and passed it.
Hiep was scheduled to return home in May, but he has yet to return due to the suspension of regular air routes along with the spread of COVID-19. Hung is scheduled to return home in November, and Tiep and Hoa are scheduled to return at the end of September, but it is unclear whether they will actually be able to return.
Regarding the future, Hiep, Hung and Hoa have indicated their intention to return to Japan, and Hiep and Hoa are considering taking the first-grade test.
Construction manager Kazuya Endo of Chuo Tekken, evaluates Hoa by saying, “He is honest and quick at learning, and he never forgets what he is taught.” Hoa takes good care of the trainees who came in later and teaches them the work, and now the trainees can do the work alone. Endo also welcomes Hoa to come back to Japan. “When Hoa returns to our company, we will definitely have him get the first-grade certificate. Then, as a craftsman, there will be no difference between Japanese and Vietnamese,” Endo said.
(Excerpt from an article on August 20, 2020)