Difficulty in finding good staff in Japan

Difficulty in finding good staff in Japan

While US business people identified high land and office prices as the number one impediment to business expansion in Japan, the difficulty in finding good people came in a close second.

One cause of this inability to find workers is simply demographics. Japan, like America, has baby boomers who are growing older, and fewer young people are entering the work force. The overall labor shortage is especially acute in the technical areas, where it is estimated that by the late 1990s the demand for system programmers will exceed the supply by one million positions, and where there are presently 3.6 jobs for every Japanese college graduate who majored in a technical field.

The second reason for the difficulty of finding workers is that many Japanese feel uneasy about working for foreign firms. They think that a Japanese firm will give them more stability than a foreign firm. Many Japanese want lifetime employment, and they don't think a foreign firm will offer that to them.

However, remember that all the talk about lifetime employment in Japan is greatly exaggerated. Lifetime employment only applies to the 20% of the workforce enough to work in the largest companies. Also note that Japanese law does not guarantee lifetime employment, and labor contracts rarely include such a guarantee.

So among the smaller companies there is considerable turnover among personnel. I've seen a number of people eased out of jobs in smaller firms, and even in larger firms sub-par employees are farmed out to subsidiaries with ensuing cuts in pay, benefits and status.