Business

'Ice age' job-seekers who graduated after Japan's economic bubble burst flock to public-sector positions

JIJI

While the government is trying to help people in the employment “ice age” generation find jobs, applicants are primarily being drawn to only a small number of public-sector job positions.

The ice age generation refers to those who graduated from school between around 1993 and 2004, after the collapse of the bubble economy in the early 1990s. Many of them, who are now in their 30s and 40s, were unable to find stable jobs.

As of Jan. 30, 33 local governments had newly employed or planned to employ ice age job-seekers, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

In Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture, 1,816 people applied for only three positions offered by the city, meaning 1 in about 600 applicants would be able to land a job. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry had applications from 1,934 people for 10 positions.

The government aims to increase the number of regular workers from the ice age generation by 300,000, mainly in the private sector, but it is a tough road ahead. Some private-sector companies are struggling to attract new workers.

Major staffing company Pasona Group Inc. plans to hire 300 employees for positions related to regional revitalization. Some 400 people have applied so far.

“We may have been able to attract job-seekers by setting regional revitalization as the theme of the recruitment campaign,” a Pasona public relations official said.

In August last year, Hello Work public job-placement offices started accepting job offers exclusively for the ice age generation from firms across the country. Companies had offered a total of 1,290 positions by the end of last year, but only 54 people were hired.

There has been a discrepancy between supply and demand in the labor market, analysts said. While about half of the offered positions were driving jobs or for transportation services, for which the manpower shortage is serious, many job-seekers hope to work in clerical positions, regardless of whether they are from the ice age generation or not.

Yusuke Shimoda, senior economist at the Japan Research Institute, said that job-seekers tend to think that “work conditions at sectors suffering labor shortages are tough.”

In September last year, major logistics company Sankyu Inc. unveiled a plan to employ 300 regular workers over the next three years.

It had received applications from a little more than 60 people by the end of 2019, but only 10 of them were employed. In many cases, applicants did not have the required background or conditions were not met, according to the company.

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