In just five years, the number of people over 40 changing jobs has doubled. The post-pandemic demand for skilled labour has resulted in a boom in job-hopping among older workers in Japan. The number of older workers who changed jobs quadrupled in the five years leading up to fiscal 2020, outpacing younger workers.
In fiscal 2020, 10,000 senior people sought new jobs through three recruiting firms, up 1.9 times from five years previously. It was the fastest-growing age group, led by people in their 40s and 50s. A 44-year-old man retired last year after 19 years at a Tokyo publisher. Despite being put in control of a new digital firm, he was unhappy since he had little autonomy.
Because many companies have seniority systems and offer little opportunity for advancement after that age, many Japanese believe 35 to be the cutoff for a significant career change. The company needed a seasoned professional to help it grow. In exchange for a similar wage, he abandoned his previous job. On his contentment, he said, “I’m delighted because I can do anything I want right now.”
Because firms are reorganizing faster, more senior people are shifting jobs. By the end of 2021, Senior Job, an organization that focuses on placing older workers, had 61,500 members, a 2.7 fold increase from 2019. According to Tokyo Shoko Research, 84 publicly traded companies plan to retire early in 2021, laying off 15,892 employees.
Former employees of companies that have introduced early retirement plans have raised their registrations on job placement websites. Japan Tobacco and Aoyama Trading employees who retired early have boosted their En Japan memberships by 3.1 and 3.7 times since 2018.
Despite this, the country’s overall unemployment rate has remained stable, thanks to active recruitment by startups and established businesses. One analyst says that increasing employment mobility among middle-aged workers may help revive the Japanese economy. According to En Japan manager Takayuki Iyou, demand for aged workers is rising among growing and reorganizing businesses. Former CEO of Globee, Akisaburo Ikushima, claimed that senior people are appealing because of their experience and hands-on approach to work.
Another motive for older individuals to hunt for work is better pay. Changing jobs ten years ago would have reduced income, but now many predict an increase. This is up from a minus 8.5 points a decade ago, according to a 2020 labour ministry report.
The ministry study found that a job move reduced pay by 5.0 points for people aged 50 to 54 and 26.3 points for those aged 55 to 59. Change of job is still challenging for workers over 50. A 58-year-old guy quit his work as an automobile salesman at the end of April to start a new career before the mandatory retirement age of 60.
Older workers will have more options despite a shift away from lifelong employment and seniority-based advancement. According to one expert, such workers must maintain their current skills through training and education.