• 6.1




Key drivers

Wage Pressure in High-Skill Industries (1.1)

The wage gap between high-skill industries and their low-skill counterparts is higher than it has been for several years.

Education Flexibility (3.9)

The number of graduates as a share of the population has declined, reducing the proportion of skilled workers that firms can choose from.

Talent Mismatch (9.8)

The long-term unemployment rate has fallen in Japan, although it remains above the historical average. This may reflect a reduction in the mismatch between jobseekers’ skills and the skills potential employers demand.


Education Flexibility


Labour Market Participation


Labour Market Flexibility


Talent Mismatch


Overall Wage Pressure


Wage Pressure in High-Skill Industries


Wage Pressure in High-Skill Occupation


Richard Eardley

Managing Director, Hays Japan

View from the Ground

The shortage of AI engineers, mobile/application development engineers and cyber security engineers persists across most industries in Japan, but the main demand comes from eCommerce, fintech and consulting firms. To address the dearth in skills, companies are turning to overseas talent, compromising on their Japanese language proficiency requirement. Employers are placing strong emphasis on training programmes to upskill talent to meet talent demands, while displaying high levels of flexibility around their requirements. Japan also continues to be a popular tourist destination, and now even more so due to major upcoming events such as the Rugby World Cup, 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and the World Expo in Osaka. There is therefore unprecedented hiring activity in the hospitality industry, particularly for bilingual young locals.

Richard Eardley, Managing Director, Hays Japan

Key Skills in Demand

  • Data Scientists
  • Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems Experts
  • Human Resource Business Partners
  • Indirect/Direct Procurement Specialists
  • M&A Experts

Market Insight

In 2018, GDP growth in Japan was 0.8%. This was below its average of 2% over the previous five years. That said, the population declined by 300,000 or 0.2% over the year, so this represents a slightly better economic performance than at first glance.

Despite the moderate growth rate, unemployment fell for the ninth consecutive year, falling to 2.4% at the end of 2018. The Labour Economic Trends Survey points to the existence of skill shortages. Some 45% of firms surveyed in 2018 thought there was an insufficient supply of full-time employees, compared to just 3% of respondents who thought there was an excess supply. This situation may worsen over the medium term. With the population ageing rapidly, there is a concern about the country’s ability to replace retiring workers.