Korean jobseekers turning eyes to Japan
The number of foreign workers in japan passed one million for the first time last year
By Yoon Ja-young
Japan is becoming an attractive option for young Korean jobseekers amid the tough job market at home.
According to Japan’s labour ministry, a total of 48,121 Koreans landed jobs in Japan last year, 2.3 times more than 2008 when 20,661 Koreans were hired.
Young Koreans, who have similar cultural backgrounds, are attractive options for Japanese firms that have been increasingly hiring foreigners. The number of foreign workers in Japan recorded 1.08 million as of last October, up 19.4 per cent from the previous year, the first time for the figure to surpass 1 million.
“Japan has been making efforts to overcome the shortage of a good labour force, especially in the IT sector, by hiring workers from overseas,” said Lee Bu-hyung, a senior researcher at Hyundai Research Institute. Foreign workers have notably increased in IT as well as research and technology service.
According to the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry survey, seven out of 10 small- and medium-sized businesses in Japan are suffering from a shortage of workers, with some businesses closing down in the most serious cases.
Young Japanese, meanwhile, are enjoying job offers. According to Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, 97.6 per cent of the college graduates who wished to get a job were successfully employed. It means virtually anybody can get a job if he or she wants one.
The unusually favourable job market is mostly due to demographic change. Working age population in Japan, or those aged between 15 and 64, fell to 76.56 million last year from 87.26 million in 1995. Baby boomers, meanwhile, have retired en masse, accelerating a labour shortage. Japanese firms are also in need of more workers on improving profitability following the success of Abenomics.
This contrasts with Korea, where youth unemployment has been rising to record highs each year. According to Statistics Korea, the youth unemployment rate marked 9.3 per cent in July, up 0.1 of a percentage point from a year ago. The de-facto unemployment rate including those who gave up job seeking stood at 22.6 per cent, up one percentage point.
Those who chose Japan say that though the starting salary may not seem high, it jumps after a few years. They also cite the work-life balance as an attraction despite barriers that do exist for foreigners.
Lee said that Korea should take measures to prevent the exodus of a good labour force, especially since it is also scheduled to suffer as a result of the low birthrate and ageing society.
“There should be support for the private sector to create more quality jobs. A system should be set to guarantee work and life balance, through discussion between the labour, the management and the government,” he said.
The tough job market for youths, however, is expected to continue here until 2022, according to experts’ analysis on demographic change.