The labor ministry has decided to expand the scope of its youth job support initiative to cover people up to age 50 to cope with an increase in middle-aged people out of work, according to informed sources.

The ministry now finds it necessary to give assistance to people in the ‘employment ice age’ generation, those who graduated from high school or college roughly between the middle 1990s and early 2000s after the collapse of the bubble economy, the sources said Monday.

Currently, the ministry provides people not in school and aged less than 40 with comprehensive employment support, including consultations, work experience programs and job interview training at 177 support stations nationwide.

According to the sources, all support stations, which are operated by nonprofit organizations and other parties commissioned by the ministry, will offer advice to jobless people up to around 50 years old starting next April.

The ministry will also set up 12 ‘one-stop’ support stations that will also help needy people make a living and find a place to live.

For middle-aged people who are not trying to find a job, the ministry plans to have support station staff members visit and encourage them to look for work, in cooperation with local welfare offices, social workers and centers to assist ‘hikikomori’ social recluses. – THE JAPAN TIMES