Updated: Dec 25, 2019
Written By: Jen Santelices
Date Published: 21st November, 2019
Millennials are known to prioritize work-life balance and a good work culture when looking for jobs, and foreign millennials in Japan are no different. Although Japan is a country known for their difficult work conditions, some industries are now evolving in order to cater to this generation’s needs. #jportlibrary
Millennials have become such a visible workforce in various industries across the world. A recent study estimates that by 2025, up to 75% of the total global workforce will consist of millennials. As they continue to do so, they bring a shift in ideas when considering job opportunities.
This shift is shaping a country like Japan as well, where young people now value work-life balance as a top career goal, something relatively uncommon before. For foreign millennials entering Japan’s workforce, it is essential to understand which industries can provide them with the best opportunities in this period of change.
Here are the top 5 industries for millennials in Japan in the next 5 years, based on the availability of jobs, why the industry is good for millennials, and modern companies that are leading by example.
Information Technology (IT)
With Google ranking as one of the top ideal workplaces for Japanese students surveyed in 2019, it proves that the IT industry has carved its place into the ideals of Japan's working youth. Companies like Google are popular because of their work-life balance and benefits that suit millennials’ needs.
Furthermore, there is a great demand for people in the IT industry in Japan, with one estimate showing a shortage of up to 600,000 IT-related professionals by 2030. This has resulted in less requirements for foreigners to enter the industry, and it's a lot easier for young foreign workers to get jobs in IT now more than ever.
Example: Zehitomo.com, a website and matchmaking service for connecting clients and services in Japan. Founded by two Americans, their team has grown to include a good mix of foreign and Japanese members, and their company's values prioritize a cooperative work environment and a healthy work-life balance, something that fits in with millennials' lifestyles.
To apply directly for internships to Zehitomo, visit JPort Journal's page on the company here.
The upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics is opening doors for foreigners to enter Japan’s understaffed hospitality industry, and Japan’s government recently made it easier for hospitality trainees to stay in Japan. As more tourists visit Japan each year, the demand for employees in the industry constantly grows.
A lot of hospitality jobs do away with the 9-to-5 pattern and are dependent on shifts, and on average, they have a lower amount of monthly working hours compared to other sectors. This means that Japan’s infamous overtime culture isn’t as big of a problem here, and employees can enjoy more free time, something that most millennials value.
Japan Travel is a company founded by Terrie Lloyd, a New Zealand native now based in Japan. A travel agency and website focused on inbound tourism, the company is a good example for fostering millennials' work ideals because of their flexible and diverse work environment, as well as being an equal opportunity employer.
To apply directly for JapanTravel, visit JPort Journal's page on the company here.
A lot of Japanese companies conduct trading and sales all over the world, and where there is international business, there is a demand for foreigners to link Japan and other countries. Because of this, companies in Japan often hire foreigners to serve as international sales representatives.
International sales jobs can be a good option for millennials who want variety in their jobs—the business trips abroad that are often required in these types of jobs can be a good break to the typical office routine.
Itochu is one of Japan's largest trading companies that does business all over the world. Despite being a large Japanese company, they are far from traditional—with casual Wednesdays and Fridays (shown on the poster), a high employee satisfaction rate, and equal opportunities for younger employees to take part in sales operations abroad—which can make them enticing to the millennial generation.
Two of the top 10 companies in Japan that attained the highest ranking of employee happiness in 2019 are international management consultancy companies, and it seems that some companies in this industry prioritize job satisfaction in their employees.
Consultants are necessary for companies that have clients that want to work internationally, and this is where foreign millennials come in, to bring not only experience, but also an international mindset to help the company achieve the clients’ needs.
Example: The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is an international consulting firm with offices in Japan. Another company that ranked high in the employment satisfaction survey, comments from BCG employees in Japan include appreciation for the company's openness and the supportive work environment, which is good for millennials who value fulfillment in their careers.
Japan is always increasing their efforts to become more global, however, Japan still ranks low on English proficiency, according to a 2018 survey by a language education organization in Switzerland. This gap in proficiency means that there is going to be a constant demand for foreigners that can provide translation services between Japanese and English.
However, other languages such as Chinese, Korean, French and Spanish are also in demand for localization jobs in Japan. A lot of these jobs are involved in localizing games or media from Japanese to the language of their target country.
Translation and localization jobs often have remote work possibilities, and this flexibility in choosing a workspace is something most millennials prefer to have as an option for their jobs.
Example: Gengo is an online translation service that has been popular in the past few years. They hire translators for a multitude of languages, and translators can set their own schedule, while receiving support and feedback. This can be good for millennials with language skills who want flexibility and cooperation in their work.
Word of advice
Although Japan is embracing more foreigners in different industries, it cannot be denied that a lot of companies in Japan are still very traditional, and this especially affects young, foreign workers who might find it difficult to adjust.
It’s important to do prior research on the job market and industries in Japan to avoid the pitfalls of excessive overtime and strict work cultures, because building your career in Japan doesn’t need to be painful to be fulfilling.