New recruits less ambitious: survey

by Masaaki Kameda

Staff Writer

Nearly half of the new recruits who started their working lives this month will decline to work abroad if asked, and the ratio of those who want to start their own businesses has fallen to just under 12 percent, according to a survey by a think tank.

The results seem to reflect a trend among young workers of shying away from challenging career options and favoring stable, seniority-based working environments.

The survey of new employees by the non-profit Japan Productivity Center released last week found a record low 50.1 percent of 1,761 respondents polled from late March through April said they would accept offers for overseas assignments, down 4.9 points from last year.

The figure was the lowest since the Tokyo-based think tank started asking the question in 2011, when 54.3 percent said they were willing to work overseas.

Likewise, 11.8 percent of those polled said they would like to start their own business rather than seek promotions at companies. The number, a drop of 3.1 points from last year, was the lowest since 2003, when the group included the question in the survey.

New recruits were also found to favor the traditional seniority-based wage system. The poll showed that 44.1 percent said they prefer a wage system based on age and experience over one that rewards achievement and competency, up from 38.4 percent in 2012 and 28.3 percent in 2013.

While new recruits seek stable employment, they are not necessarily committed to their employers, according to the survey results. For the first time in 10 years, the ratio of those who answered they would quickly move to other companies with better working conditions surpassed the 30 percent threshold, the survey showed.

In addition, more new employees feel anxiety, rather than hope, in their lives. Only 53.2 percent replied that their future life would be filled with hope rather than anxiety, down from 58.2 percent in 2013 and 59.5 percent in 2012.

The organization has conducted career-related surveys every year since 1990 by asking new recruits who participate in its job training seminars to fill out a questionnaire.

Of those surveyed, 72.7 percent were male, while 81.2 percent over 20.

  • Starviking

    Is this at all surprising? Who prospers in Japan? Old businessmen and bureaucrats who toe the line. Who does not? Those who push the boundaries. Who gets jailed? Horaemon. Who does not? Bureaucrats, like prosecutors who twist the law; Old Boys, like the Olympus crew; people with no idea of how to run a business safely, like JR East and JR Hokkaido execs.

    This is ‘keep your head down’ Japan.

    • Demosthenes

      I think the major motivational ethic for Japanese people, at any point in history, can be reduced to one simple thing – fear.

  • MrTickles

    Also this is an era of layoffs and uncertain employment, if you can break into the labour market at all. The traditional one-job career is awfully attractive in any OECD country where job security is something only old people have.