National

Ministry looks to draw on expertise of retired government civil engineers with new staffing agency

JIJI

The infrastructure ministry is considering establishing a human resource agency for former national government employees who worked in the civil engineering field to support municipalities’ maintenance of infrastructure such as roads and bridges, sources said.

The new staffing agency will enable retired central government personnel to make use of their rich experience and knowledge to assist with upgrading and mending deteriorating infrastructure at municipalities that have difficulty hiring engineers.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry aims to have the agency start operations in a few years, ministry sources said.

The number of local government workers in the civil engineering sector in Japan has declined since fiscal 1996, when it peaked at approximately 125,000, slumping to around 91,000 in fiscal 2015.

As of fiscal 2017, a total of 450 municipalities — or some 30 percent of the total — were without civil engineers or construction engineers on the payroll, apparently due to cuts in the number of employees as part of the government’s administrative and fiscal reform measures.

Given this, the infrastructure ministry is looking at creating a human resource agency that registers retired engineers who have served in the national government. The move comes at a time when the upgrading of aging infrastructure, created across Japan during the country’s rapid economic growth period — mainly in the 1960s — is becoming a serious problem, the sources said.

Under the new scheme, local governments will select people through the agency to have them engage in the maintenance and repair of infrastructure as well as to train staff, according to the sources.

Initially, the infrastructure ministry hopes that municipal governments with immediate human resource requirements will make use of the agency — such as those that manage large bridges and roads, and those without engineers.

The ministry will also consider providing assistance for labor costs, the sources said.