Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Japan lost generation - the young but talented people

I read an interesting article published entitled "Japan Lost Generation"
http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/may2007/gb20070517_814046.htm

It is sad to hear that the young, promising local graduates are unable to find a job, not just because of the weak employment market, but the employers perceived value on the senior workers. Some Recruiters feel the young may not have the relevant skills and are inexperienced. It is this societal suffocation that constitute to an already ailing economy since the Japanese bubble and underpin the growth of a healthy workforce.

Seniority and hierarchy remain prevalent in Japanese companies. No matter how talented the young is and how hard he works, he could not rise in ranks above a senior person whom may have deteriorated in their performances but remain important to a company success. Hence, the unpolished young gems could not shine further. He can't just hop from one job to another as too much job hopping is completely frown upon by the local society.


On the contrary, we are living in a rapid information age. The young can contribute to new ideas amidst the economic stagnation of the local market. Should the Japanese companies venture overseas, the young and educated generation is able to speak and write English, communicate better and develop fresh concepts that help to drive effective business innovation. The end results? Potential for higher productivity and bottom line.

Look at the likes of Hello Kitty and we know how successful a Japanese franchise can be. Look at the likes of Kirin beer and we know how influential a conglomerate is.

Effectively, a good mix of young and old will help. So the question is this - where does the young Japanese head to?

Overseas. Yes, the chance for them to integrate into a multi-diverse global organization that embraces their skills. Offering ad-hoc Japanese lessons to foreigners outside of Japan could be another feasible option. Or chained Japanese cuisine classes in Asia.

I spoke to some young Japanese whom share the same sentiment as mentioned above. They worked in America for a number of years on contract basis. Due to local family roots, they could not renew the contract. Once back in Japan, their work culture changes entirely. Local Japanese firms hire them because of the regional experiences. Still, they will have little room to expand their potential and have to listen to the traditional corporate thoughts melted out by their chiefs. The young does not like it unfortunately. So, given a chance, they will like to venture out completely from Japan and ply their trade globally. Right now, they are saving every penny and taking on part time jobs - dual income streams. And it's draining their health.


I reckon if this continues and worsens, we will see an outflow of raw talent, from Japan to worldwide. Think about this when the young are not offered a conducive platform:

(a) Japan workforce remains dull, at a matured stage that lacks spark and creativity
(b) High unemployment rate when channels of job opportunities are wound up internally
(c) A chance for the young Japanese to migrate instead of returning back to contribute
(d) Already an aging population, the numbers increases when the young migrates
(e) Poorer integration and acceptance of the young leading to stifle work environment

For me as a Career Coach, to my opinion, I feel the young should be given an ultimate ticket. The ticket to such career freedom and choice, not what the society shapes them but how they could break out of the cultural shell and maximize their strengths.

I will be personally delighted to speak and coach the younger Japanese (in English). If you happen to know any of them in distress, please let me know :)

My email is found in the blog.

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