Japan Country Director:
Special Duty Associate Professor, Department of International relations
"Career Service for Everyone!"
Global collaboration is a key to support successful career dreams for everyone.
International Organization of Migration (IOM) defines a migrant as any person who is moving or has moved across an international border or within a State away from his/her habitual place of residence, regardless of (1) the person's legal status; (2) whether the movement is voluntary or involuntary; (3) what the causes for the movement are; or (4) what the length of the stay is. http://www.iom.int/who-is-a-migrant
1. Facts in Japan
Japan has faced low birth and a high aging rate which resulted in a serious population decrease and low labor productivity. The birth fertility rate in 2017 was 1.42%. The average life span for males is 80.98 and females is 87.14 years old. The population in 2065 is predicted to be 88,080,000 and the population of productive aged individuals (15 to 64 years of age) would be 45,290,000.
Current Japanese economy is described as deflation and saving money is one of the most common interests among citizens. Even in this kind of economic environment, data classifies the economy as booming due to the August 2018 effective job openings ratio as 2.25 and unemployment rate of 2.4%. Finding or changing jobs is easy. However, many corporations are experiencing hiring difficulties. Last year, 28,142 went out of business and 317 bankrupted due to issues related to lack of personnel. To solve these labor-related matters, the Japanese government has decided to accept more workers from abroad, as well as to promote additional action plans for young people, women and the elderly, and to develop AI and other technologies.
Public policies, such as "The Japan Plan for Dynamic Engagement for All Citizens" and "Work Style Reforms," increased the 1,278,670 foreign workers in 2017 up 18.0% and allowed international students to work up to 28 hours a week with permission. Additionally, the Japanese government has a plan to increase the number of students to 300,000 and encourage a 50% increase in employment following graduation. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report, released in 2015, also shows government solutions are working. The number of inflows to Japan has increased by approximately 55,000 from the previous year to approximately 390,000; slotting Japan in 4th place among 35 other countries who are increasing foreign workers.
However, another report, "Attractiveness of Working Country," slots Japan in 52nd place out of 61 countries researched. Additionally, the Migration Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) slots Japan in 27th place out of 38 countries. One of MIPEX's evaluation categories, "Labor Market," showed that Japan lacked a comprehensive policy for immigrants to participate in vocational training and prevent unemployment. Another, the MIPEX "Education" category, showed insufficiency of policy for parents of immigrants.
Japan's rapid "Multicultural Society" increase is clearly experiencing the growing pains of irregular employment, economic and social disparity and poverty. Further research and study of the inflow of foreign workers is required. Japanese career consultants also need to enhance their knowledge of serving this exploding population.
2. Career Services for Immigrants
Currently, Japanese public sector support for individuals and corporations before and after the hiring of foreign workers includes about 544 "Hello Work" centers spread in local areas and about 4 "Employment Service for Foreigners" centers in bigger cities. Support from these centers includes personal career consulting, job search, and variety of technical training courses. Even though the services are available to youth through seniors, many immigrants lack knowledge of them and/or are unable to access them easily. Furthermore, center service providers lack the specialized knowledge required to serve the diverse needs of foreign workers.
With the recent increase of social issues such as irregular employment, economic and social disparity, and poverty, the Japanese government has discussed "career upgrading" and "career change." It is important to re-establish appropriate career education curriculum and services for all people, including immigrants. Life is thought to be 100 years or more, and we all need to acquire necessary knowledge and skills from an early age.
3. Primary Research: Life and Work of Foreign Workers
A questionnaire form (44 questions in Japanese) survey instrument, originally used in 1994's "Life and Opinion," concerning life and work environment by International Volunteer PolePole, was administered to subjects generated with support from current members of PolePole's Japanese School and Ohashi's personal contacts. After an explanation of the survey instrument's purpose and method, the subjects completed the questionnaire form and turned it in for collection on site. This survey was established as a preliminary survey for the next year. Effective response was received from eleven (11) subjects. Seven (7) were males and four (4) were females. Their average age was 26. Their length of stay in Japan varied widely, from less than 3 months to more than 37 months. Their most common Visa status was "Technical Intern Training Program."
Despite subjects reporting high motivatition to learn Japanese, they consistently reported almost no opportunities to communicate with Japanese, whether inside the workplace or outside in the community at large. More than half answered they have problems and troubles in their life and work place. One subject, a third generation Japanese from Brazil, showed different characteristics. For example, his high Japanese language skill was developed across his longer stay in Japan. He also held a different type of Visa. Plans for future use of the survey instrument are in the works including improvements to the questionnaire form as well as in the method of use. Further collaboration with public sectors, corporations and other organizations also is planned.
4. Future for Career Consultants
Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has set a goal to increase the number of Certified Career Consultants, Japanese national license, from 37,000 to 100,000 by 2024. Last June, Prime Minister of Japan and his Cabinet have decided to create new qualifications in five areas of particularly serious labor shortage in order to accept 500,000 more by 2025, and under Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). Nurses and elderly care workers from Indonesia, Philippines, and Vietnam will be tapped to further increase the numbers. As career consultants, we need to prepare for the future with long and wider perspectives: 1. Additional research and case studies are needed and should be shared continuously in global settings. 2. Seamless career education and service should be established by Certified Career Consultants and governmental offices. 3. Collaboration with career support professionals around the globe should be continued and fostered through availability of professional development dollars.
Author's Note: The grass-roots movement for empowerment and advocacy for immigrants and minorities takes time. We all need to cooperate by moving one step further. The sustainable development of the world is at stake!
This year's NCDA Global Career Development Conference was held in Phoenix, Arizona from June 21-23, and the theme of the conference was "Leading the Way by Integrating Theory, Research and Practice." More than 1,000 participants including researchers, educators and/or practitioners gathered from around the world to network and share their best practices and research.
|It was a fascinating experience for me to be both a First Timer and a Roundtable Panel Presenter. Along with Hyung Joon Yoon, Brian Hutchison, and Marilyn Maze, three of the authors of NCDA's 2017 published book, International Practices of Career Services, Credentials, and Training, I teamed to introduce the Japanese career services' concept of the "Job Card" and the "Self-Career Doc System." I was surprised by our participants' expressed interests in Japanese career services and professions. I also did not expect to find this curiosity about Japan and other countries continue throughout additional conference presentations and interactions.||
Brian Hutchison, Nika Ohashi, Hung Joon Yoon, & Marilyn Maze at the roundtable presentation
Naturally, the U.S. government separating children from their immigrant parents was an ongoing discussion topic throughout the conference both within and outside of the sessions. During our conference-scheduled, APCDA meeting time, I shared my developing expertise with the immigrant populations I serve and my interest in discovering how others work with immigrants. My request spurred the possibility of devoting an entire future newsletter issue to the topic with those serving these populations in their respective countries and contributing their expertise and best practices as well as those who have experience with the social issues related to immigrants. The conference's Closing General Session, "Empowering and Advocacy in Career Development with Immigrants" by Dr. German Cadenas, further demonstrated the growing need for career services for immigrants. Asian countries, such as China, Korea, and Japan, are currently facing the reality of a declining citizen worker population as a result of low birthrate and the increasing age of current citizen workers. The need for an immigrant labor force will continue to grow. I invite readers to contribute to these migration-related issues and propose establishing a new global platform for ongoing discussion where career support needs can be met with both current best practices as well as possible thoughts and suggestions. "Career Support for Everyone!" can be our rallying cry.
Michihiro Tanaka, Nika Ohasi, Midori Nonogaki, and Atsunari Sakuma (from Japan) with Marilyn Maze (USA) and Norm Amundson (Canada) at the International Reception
|It took me great courage to attend NCDA, but I am grateful that I did. Being able to directly learn from legends in our field was amazing! However, the conference also allowed me to reconnect with my APCDA friends who participated. Each and every one continues to inspire me. Finally, I was able to forge new friendships amongst several of the global participants. I look forward to ongoing conversations. Next year's conference will be in Houston, Texas from June 27-29, 2019. I already have it marked on my calendar and look forward to seeing many of you again and to meeting some for the first time!|
An Interview with Nika Ohashi
Nika Ohashi, a Certified Career Consultant (Japanese national license), was recently interviewed by Kanako Hori for the JCDA (Japan Career Development Association) Journal and her interview will be published in volume 65 of the JCDA Journal: https://j-cda.publishers.fm/As a young girl, Ms Ohashi's father died suddenly and she was grateful for the support of others. She decided to pursue a degree in psychology and completed a bachelor's degree in Psychology in the US. When she returned to Japan, she worked a variety of jobs in the public sector and private national and foreign sectors. After taking time out to have a family, she has increasingly focused on working with immigrants who are trying to adjust to her country and is now a member of a steering committee for a group that helps immigrants learn Japanese. Ms Ohashi said, "As a member of the steering committee of a volunteer organization, I investigated the life and work of workers from overseas with the perspective of a career consultant."
She attended the APCDA Conferences in Taiwan in 2016 and Manila in 2017 and was excited by making international contacts. Ms Ohashi said, "I should mention that APCDA is like a treasure box. It is very attractive and offers so many possibilities for both professional and personal development.... The ADB tour was like an awakening. When I told a friend of mine that 'I might want to be a social entrepreneur,' she replied, 'I knew you were going to say that!'"
Ms Ohashi sees her life related to Dr. Krumboltz's Happenstance Learning Theory. "I think like Dr. Krumboltz's Happenstance Learning Theory, it is important to convert natural events to your energy. Even though there are struggles and surprises every day, I believe that I am on the right track." She would like to set up a special interest group in JCDA for people interested in supporting foreign workers and international students.
She is grateful for her husband's advice, "It is O.K to be different. Being different is something to be proud of." Her favorite quote is, "Others will start to shine when you live your life with altruism."
JCDA members number almost 16,000 strong. Their annual conference took place in June in Fukuoka, Kyushu. Kyushu is located near Kumamoto, where the huge 7.3 magnitude earthquake occurred back in April 2016. The after effects of the earthquake and ways to offer help to career counselors in the area were the focus of consideration during the conference.
In 2016, the Self-career Dock System was introduced just before the state examination system for career consultants and has shown rapid development. The Self-career Dock System is an organization that supports the awareness of career development by providing opportunities to regularly receive career consulting across the stages of life development, years of experience, and various types of work. Until 2016, career help and consultation in Japan only focused on people looking for a job or job-changing. It had been widely conducted by "Hello Work" (public employment security office) or HR companies. More recently, the Japanese government has been promoting the policy for supporting career consultants with special knowledge.
Job hunting activity among Japanese students is moving toward its final stage. In Japanese schools the career counselor's existence is still not common. This causes strong mental stress, unsuccessful job hunting and "Job hunting depression." Career and mental support to young people is slowly becoming more recognized as indispensable.
Background of Japan’s national qualification system
In Japan, it has long been considered common to work for the same company from graduation until retirement. However, nowadays as people’s values are diversifying, we are entering a new era in which more people want to realize their own way of working and lifestyle. Along with rapid changes in society, the demand for career services is increasing.
Given this background, the "100,000 Career Consultants Training Plan" aims to double the current number of career consultants (approximately 50,000) by the end of March 2025. In April 2016, a new national qualification for career counselors was created. Since the new system requires that career counselors renew their license every five years, improvement and standardization among qualified personnel is expected.
Improvement of work environment
Under the "Vocational Ability Development Promotion Law", the task of employers is to "secure opportunities for career consultation and other assistance as necessary" for their employees. Specifically, it will be required to make effective use of "a person with expert knowledge and skills related to career consultation" and "provide professional services for career consultation".
From the workers' perspective, it is expected that they will be provided with a work environment where they can easily consult with career consultants and counselors, and will be able to positively think about their own career. The employer's challenge is to reconcile the career plan required by the worker with their business plan, and then take measures to create a workable environment for the right persons in the right place. Given the rapidly declining birthrate and aging population in Japan, this policy seems to be a meaningful measure to sustain the labor force population.
Demand for Human Resources development and training poses a challenge
Many Japanese career consultants and counselors belong to public employment security offices, University employment support departments, and private employment support organizations. Many consultations are related to human resources matching. The percentage of companies involved in human resource development and training is about 20%. With 100,000 people planned, increasing demands for human resources development and career development will become a challenge.
At the APCDA Conference, Mr. Ryoji Tatsuno, President of the Japan Career Development Association, announced that the Japanese government has decided to implement a national level certification process for Career Development Advisors in order to assure quality and clarify this new and growing field. This is a dramatic and important move in Asia. Few other countries, including the US, have a national level certification requirement for career development advisors.
Currently, about 40,000 people hold certification from one of the 10 approved providers. For information about the variety of training programs in Japan, please click here to read a web article which was translated to English by Dr. Akira Otani. Notice that Career Counselor, Employment Counselor, and Career Development Advisor are names that are used interchangeably in Japan. For even more detail on these training programs, click here to see a list of the training providers and their requirements.
Of these certified career development advisors, 14,000 were trained by Nippon Manpower, the largest Japanese provider of this training. A group of conference attendees toured the Nippon Manpower facilities, hosted by manager Michi Mizuno. Nippon Manpower was founded in 1967 to provide training to business professionals, recruitment and outplacement services, and government policy implementation.
Ms Mizuno explained that, in the 1990's, unemployment in Japan began a steady rise, peaking in 2003, at over 5%. The Japanese society is aging. Many older workers have held a variety of occupations over their lifespans. Globalization has caused high labor costs in Japan to be questioned and large numbers of workers have been forced to shift from manufacturing to the service sector. These changes have caused growing awareness that workers need assistance clarifying their career opportunities and transitioning to new fields. Currently, 25% of the population is over 65, and the working-age population is declining, adding more stress to the labor market.
In 2000, Mr. Tatsuno initiated the Japan Career Development Association. JoAnn Harris Bowlsbey, then President of NCDA, was asked to help Nippon Manpower develop a Career Development Advisor curriculum. Career development advisors currently help young workers find a place in the labor market and senior workers look for meaning in retirement or second careers. They provide services related to coping strategies, motivation and satisfaction, work-life balance, and diversity. Career Development Advisor training takes place over a 3 to 4 month time period and requires 140 hours of coursework. An examination is required for certification. The certification must be renewed every five years and continuing education is required for recertification. While a small number of graduates work in schools (K-12), most work in outplacement, university career centers, public agencies, and human resource departments of private companies.
At the APCDA Conference, Dr. Agnes Watanabe urged that Japan review is reliance on Career Development Advisors, who may have no training in counseling. The dearth of counselor education programs preparing master's level career counselors allows the lines to become blurred between advising and counseling.
November 2013 Japan Country Report by Yoshiji Ishikawa
Labor Market Trends
Training for career counselors and advisors
There are private career development groups, such as Japan Career Development Association, that provide training programs for their members. At this time the Government has not initiated standard training programs for career counselors and advisors.
Career Counseling/Advising in Japan by Yoshiji Ishikawa
As a result of the pension eligibility age being raised, the government has mandated that every employee can work until age 65. This law ensures that many employees will work about 40 years for the same company because there is lifetime employment in Japan. Career counselors or advisors are needed support employees who want to build their career autonomously not dependent on the company.
Many employees who graduated from college or university are employed as the stem candidates in Japanese companies. They may have experienced some personal relocation and job rotation and could be promoted to manager and executive. They need to be supported at 20's or 30's or 40's to develop their career without depending on their employer.
In addition, there is the now the opportunity to retire around mid 50's. It is feared that the worker’s motivation will decline. It is difficult for people in their 50's to change their career to another company. The employees of this age are concerned about ways to prove they are still valuable to their employer. Career counselors are needed to assist these employees at this stage of their careers.
The rate of working women between 25 and 39 years old has decreased from 70% to 66% this year. This decline is a result of the population that is aging and the lack of government support of women in the workforce. The government is now considering measures to support working women by raising the wage compensation during childcare holidays, extending the childcare holiday period and increasing the percentage of female managers. There is a lack of support for men to participate in raising a family. Very few employers offer childcare leave for men. Hopefully this will change. Career counselors and advisors should support work-life balance for male clients, not just female clients.
As a result of the economic recovery trend, the employment rate of new graduates has improved. However, the non-employment rate after graduation still is 15.4%. Many students still think the jobs are with larger companies. As a result, employment with small and medium-sized enterprises is quite low. There is still lifetime employment in Japan and many companies hire new recruits after graduation immediately in April. If students are not employed after graduation, it is difficult for them to be hired as a regular employee.
Many students think “If joining a large company, the company will provide good benefits to me.” There is a need to educate the students so that they will embrace the need to change their awareness to pursuing their career for themselves. All universities have career education but there is a tendency to treat career education and vocational education as being the same. Therefore, career counselors and advisors need to show the students the distinction between career support and vocational support.
There are private career development groups that provide some training programs for their members. At this time the Government has not initiated standard training programs for career counselors.