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Looking overseas to solve Japan’s labor shortage

19 1 0

Entrepreneur Misa Matsuzaki likes a good business challenge. The youngest female entrepreneur to publicly list a company on the Tokyo Stock Exchange aims to solve Japan’s labor shortfall through increased migration.

Firms struggle to fill vacant jobs due to a chronic labor shortage caused by the nation’s shrinking working-age population. There are 1.5 vacancies for every job applicant. The labor pinch will only intensify as the working population plummets in future years.

By 2030, 6.4 million workers in mainly blue-collar sectors, equal to nearly 10 percent of the working population, will exit the workforce. The government hopes to fill the gap with women and the elderly. But are they ready to do blue-collar jobs?

“If we lose 6.4 million blue-collar workers by 2030, then the only choice for employers is to hire foreigners — even if they must pay them a high wage,” Matsuzaki says. “Otherwise, we will have to accept many small companies disappearing.”

In 2014, Matsuzaki started People Worldwide Co., a cross-border recruiting company that helps Japanese employers recruit overseas trainees under the government’s Technical Intern Training Program. The program was launched in 1993 with intentions to improve the skills of people from developing nations.

In practice, trainees provide employers with a cheap source of labor. By law, interns can come to Japan to work for up to five years. But they cannot bring their families or change jobs. When their training ends, they must return to their home country.

Once in Japan, trainees are captive to employers, some of whom force them to........

© The Japan Times