A recent Nikkei survey has found that over 60 percent of Japanese
in their late twenties and early thirties are planning to change jobs, and indeed, 62 percent of all respondees said that they had already switched jobs at least once. Clearly the old system of lifetime employment really is breaking down.
Or is it?
We believe that there are indeed some age-linked social factors at work, which are dislodging a large number of people from secure employment. The above 50s are getting sacked in droves — Mizuho just announced that they would be seeking “voluntary” retirement from up to 5,000, around 15 percent, of its staff. And the under 25s can’t get work and at least 60 percent of the 1.4 m or so new graduates next year are going to be stuck in Hello Work offices, trying to get anything to get their careers started.
But we think that Nikkei’s survey is a bit misleading. A better predictor of whether Japan is truly changing would have been to survey people aged 35-45 years old. This is age group is the bedrock of the workforce. It’s when most Japanese are buying homes and having families — and if there was still a 60+ percent level of people wanting to switch jobs — then we’d be sitting up and taking notice.
The fact is that a generation ago young Japanese wanted to start families in their twenties, but now they’re wealthy enough (well, their parents are anyway) to want to play around for 10 years or so longer before settling down and getting serious.
So, if you read about that survey and were hoping to recruit some prime-time mid-career candidates, you probably shouldn’t rely on changing demographics to fix your staffing problems. We believe that most of the “prime-timers” are staying right where they are.
Several weeks ago we announced that Japan Inc. has just started a new newsletter called MoneyWatch. This excellent weekly analysis of Japan’s macro fiscal policy — but written for the layman — is by the talented Darrel Whitten. Unfortunately, what we didn’t tell you is that there was a glitch on the sign-up Web form and if you subscribed, you didn’t get registered with the system. So, if you’d like to stay up to speed on what’s wrong with Japan’s banks and what the government needs to do to fix the current deflationary
spiral, then head over to — http://www.japaninc.com/newsletters/index.html?list=mw to see the latest issue, and sign up. Like all of our other online publications, it’s free.
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