Nearly a third of companies facing worker shortfall: survey

by Masaaki Kameda

Staff Writer

About a third of Japanese companies with at least 30 workers are facing a shortage of part-time or full-time staff, according to the results of a recent survey by Recruit Works Institute, and many employers see little hope of fixing the problem.

The findings by the Tokyo-based institute, an arm of job information provider Recruit Holdings Co., released last week show that 30.6 percent of companies couldn’t hit their target number for part-time workers, while 32.1 percent were unable to hire enough experienced full-time workers.

“There is no silver bullet to solve the labor shortage,” said Akihito Toda, who was in charge of the survey at the institute. “Companies need to boost the retention rate of the workforce they already have, expand eligibility to people such as women and the elderly, and increase operational efficiency to do business with fewer workers.”

The shortage of part-time workers was highest in the retail industry with 43.8 percent of firms reporting a problem, followed by the restaurant business at 42.4 percent and the transport industry at 39.5 percent.

For midcareer full-time recruiting, the proportion of companies facing a shortfall was highest in the medical and welfare sectors at 46.3 percent, followed by the transport industry at 42.4 percent and the retail business at 38.6 percent.

Firms that are unable to reach their target number of regular and part-time employees had implemented measures to address the problem, the survey showed. Among such firms, 27.0 percent said they expanded eligibility to include inexperienced personnel.

While 26.7 percent of the companies said they responded by boosting the hourly wage for part-timers in their recruiting drive, 19.7 percent said they improved efficiency so they could handle operations with the workforce they already have.

As for the repercussions from failure to hire enough midcareer full-time workers, 9.2 percent of the firms said they have seen serious effects on their operations, while 44.9 percent said they expect negative effects if the current situation continues, according to the survey.

For part-time employment, 11.3 percent of the companies said they had seen serious effects on their operations, while 48.0 percent said although it has influenced their operations they have managed to cope.

But the prospects for solving the worker shortage appear to be dim, according to the survey, which found that 52.7 percent of the firms responded there is no chance of fixing the problem.

The poll, the first of its kind by the institute, was conducted from June 20 to 24 and covered 1,000 companies nationwide with a workforce of 30 or more.