Publicity April 2016

Escalating talent shortage in Japan

Global survey shows strong hiring of engineers, IT professionals

Bilingual recruitment consultancy Robert Walters Japan K.K. has announced the results of its Global Salary Survey 2016, which shows employment trends in 24 countries.

2015 trends in Japan

  • Strong hiring activity across Japanese and foreign-owned firms: With steadily improving opinions about Japan’s economic outlook, active hiring continued, particularly among leading firms. At the same time, Japanese professionals, previously cautious about changing jobs, were actively seeking new roles.
  • Demand for bilingual professionals in retail and consumer goods: Bilingual professionals were increasingly in demand as the number of global firms entering Japan grew. Further, the number of tourists visiting Japan reached an all-time high, prompting firms involved in retail and hospitality to secure more staff. Demand for Chinese-speaking retail and sales professionals also increased.
  • Higher demand for IT professionals in new areas of business: The IT-related jobs market remained strong as firms continued their investments in IT. Due to an increasing focus on security, demand for specialists in all areas of network and software security increased, in addition to demand for IT professionals in new business areas, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, and Big Data.
  • Greater shortage of engineers in manufacturing: Hiring demand grew stronger in many areas of the manufacturing industry. While for some time there had been a shortage of engineers, their services were even more difficult to secure in 2015. There was also a shortage of professionals in sales and supply-chain roles.

Outlook for 2016 in Japan
Robust hiring activity is expected to continue throughout 2016, especially among employers seeking bilingual professionals. But there will be some significant variations among industries in the salary increases offered to job movers during the year.

The increase is expected to be less than 5% in the retail and consumer sectors, while higher increases of 5–10% are expected in the healthcare and financial services sectors. The highest rises—up to 20%—will be seen for key engineering, sales and supply-chain specialists in the industrial sector, as well as for the most in-demand security and data-oriented IT talent.

  • Talent shortage grows as vacancies–staff gap widens: With Japanese fluency required for most jobs, opportunities are limited for expats who do not speak Japanese. The declining domestic population, coupled with a younger generation of less career-focused jobseekers, means the talent shortage will worsen.
  • Ongoing shortage of manufacturing industry professionals: Active hiring will continue in the manufacturing industry, including auto manufacturers and parts makers. Besides the shortage of electrical, electronic and mechanical engineers, demand will continue to grow for engineers with experience in the appliance and telecoms industries to develop such next-generation vehicles as connected and driverless cars. We also expect to see stronger competition for application and sales engineers.
  • Greater demand for a wide range of IT specialists: Demand will remain high among social media and gaming employers. In response to increasing demand for information security, cloud services, the IoT and processing analysis for large-volume data, demand for data scientists, analysts and consultants is also expected to increase.
  • Experienced bilingual HR specialists sought: As firms expand headcount, hiring talent acquisition specialists and internal recruiters has become increasingly important. Such individuals will be in particularly short supply in the financial services sector.