World Economy

Japan Firms Employ Retirees to Fill Labor Shortage

Firms are rehiring skilled retirees to pass their know-how on to young workers.Firms are rehiring skilled retirees to pass their know-how on to young workers.

With Japan in the grip of an economic crisis employers are turning to experienced older workers to lead the way.

In the tussle between youth and experience, a growing number of Japanese companies are declaring experience the victor, rehiring skilled retirees to pass their know-how on to young workers, ABC reported.

Sakae Kajita, 67, makes a daily commute to his office. He was forced to retire three years ago from his former position because his then employer's corporate policy was to retire workers once they reached the age of 64. But "retirement' is not in Sakae Kajita's vocabulary. "I like to keep myself busy," he said.

Kajita is back in the workforce after being lured to a new job, teaching graduates in his field of expertise—mechanical engineering in the electronics industry. He said he had a great deal of relevant experience to pass on to younger workers.

His employer agreed. "Kajita has very deep knowledge of the industry, but the most important thing is that he has a wide network. He has good connections with people who are potential clients for us," Advantec company manager Mikio Araki said.

Kajita was linked to his job by Pasona, a recruitment company which specializes in matching senior workers—often retired managerial staff—with appropriate companies.

"Every company has some sort of problem. The senior person we send them will give advice based on their expertise and, not only that, they can actually solve the issue on the spot," Pasona's president Takashi Watanabe said.

Pasona now has more than 3,000 experts on its books who are aged over 60 years old, and it says demand for older workers is growing. Japan's population is aging and its workforce is shrinking rapidly. In 40 years, 60% of the population will be over 65 and the workforce will be short an estimated 8.5 million people.

Carmaker Honda recently raised the mandatory retirement age to allow its older workers to stay in their jobs for longer.

It is among a growing number of large Japanese corporations to recognize the untapped resource of highly skilled older people as the nation grapples with the demographic challenges of the future.