There is a serious labor shortage in Japan. According to a Teikoku Databank survey, some 43.9% of companies reported that they don’t have enough full-time employees, setting a ten-year high. Factors behind this include the overheating of competition in service industries and companies’ expansion of their operations with an eye on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Companies are desperately trying to secure human resources through such means as improving conditions, but they cannot keep up with the increase in work volume.
“There has been a sudden increase in the number of packages over the past two years or so, and our drivers and other aspects of our system cannot keep up,” shared a source close to Yamato Transport Co., Ltd., a major home-delivery company that handles packages for online shopping giant Amazon. An unusual situation has arisen in their “shunto” spring wage negotiations: the labor union has asked management to take measures to limit the volume of packages accepted from clients. It looks like management will take some kind of countermeasures.
Turning to the restaurant industry, Royal Host discontinued around-the-clock operations at all of its branches at the end of January. The Skylark Group also has reduced operating hours at Gusto and Jonathan’s. A top Skylark Group executive said, “We cannot get part-timers. When we have to assign full-time employees to the late-night shifts, we have trouble covering operations during the busy daytime and evening periods.”
The construction industry has more and more projects as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics approach, and construction has the most severe labor shortage of any industry. “We cannot get workers unless we raise wages,” said a source related to the industry. According to the Japan Federation of Construction Contractors, wages in the industry have increased by more than 10% in the four years up through 2015. The increase in personnel costs is straining company management.
The Teikoku Databank poll was conducted in January, and 10,195 companies responded to the survey. Leading the pack of industries lacking full-time employees were security, construction, and transport. Many companies anticipate the volume of work will continue to increase going forward, and they see securing full-time employees who will work long term as indispensable to stable management. It will likely be a sellers’ market for university students and others graduating in spring 2018, who will launch their formal job searches in March.