World of HR: Japan invests in reskilling to accommodate a changing population

The country is facing both an aging workforce and declining productivity.
article cover

Francis Scialabba

· less than 3 min read

HR is challenging. HR news doesn’t have to be.

News built to help HR pros grow their impact & improve the future of work.

While you’re feeling the strain of aging in your knees, many countries are feeling it in their populations. Japan, for example, has a rapidly shrinking population—and an aging workforce. The government and some business leaders are reskilling workers as a way to solve the shortage.

Where in the world? Employers in Japan are in an undesirable situation: The workforce is shrinking, and so is productivity. Some fields have an excess of workers, while others have a shortage, according to the World Economic Forum.

Reskilling those in roles that have a surplus of talent is one way to accommodate the changing, reduced workforce. In October, the government announced plans to spend $7.5 billion over the next five years on reskilling programs that will provide workers with job coaches, education, or new job placement. “The economy as a whole will not grow unless there is a large movement of labor,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said.

Some companies in Japan are getting ahead of the looming problem by reskilling their employees. For example, Cyberagent, a media firm, has a “reskilling center” devoted to training employees to work as IT workers, according to Reuters.

Satellite view. Japan isn’t the only country where older workers may need reskilling. In fact, the World Economic Forum estimates that half of the world’s workers may need reskilling within the next two years. To provide workers with the skills needed to thrive in the future, the organization launched a global education program called the Reskilling Revolution in 2020, with the goal of reskilling 1.1 billion workers. Nonprofits and businesses have signed onto the program, including leaders from ManpowerGroup, AARP, and PwC, among others.

HR leaders in the US might want to consider building reskilling programs, as well, to help their businesses retain employees with staying power. “Though upskilling your workforce costs money, it is often less expensive than the aggressive recruitment strategies required when looking outside of your own company,” Jaimie Francis, VP of policy and programs at the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation, said in an interview.—KP

HR is challenging. HR news doesn’t have to be.

News built to help HR pros grow their impact & improve the future of work.