To address what demographers call a “super-aging society,” East Asian policymakers initially focused on boosting fertility and tinkering with immigration laws to strengthen the workforce. . Such measures will do little to change the aging trendline as fertility rates plummet and many countries resist large-scale immigration plans.
As such, employers are desperate for workers. In Japan, for example, research shows that as many as half of companies report a shortage of regular employees. Older workers have stepped in to fill the gap. “We have a lot of untapped and untapped working capacity,” said Naohiro Ogawa, a visiting fellow at the Asian Development Bank Institute.
Koureisha is a staffing agency in Tokyo, and job postings require applicants to be over 60 years old. President Fumio Muraseki said he believes employers are becoming more receptive to hiring older workers. “People over 65 and up to 75 are very active and healthy.
According to Muraseki, car rental agencies and building concierge services are actively recruiting older workers. One of his favorite jobs for older contract workers is sitting in the passenger seat of a service vehicle, assisting customers in the field with electricians and gas repairmen. Contractors can move vehicles as needed, Muraseki said, allowing companies to avoid parking tickets and traffic fines.
At Tokyu Community, a management company for apartment complexes in Tokyo, nearly half of the staff are over 65, said Hiroyuki Ikeda, head of human resources. With an annual salary of just ¥2.3 million (less than $17,146), the job does not appeal to younger workers, but older workers are willing to accept lower wages to supplement their pension income.
The Japanese government is now subsidizing small businesses to set up accommodation for older workers, such as adding handrails on stairs and additional rest areas for workers.