Construction work lures job seekers to Japan

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Construction work lures job seekers to Japan

Demand for technicians with skills in construction and renovation is rising in Japan, offering new opportunities for Korean job seekers.

Japan is currently experiencing a construction boom, but a lack of qualified job applicants has led to an increased demand for workers with professional knowledge or skills in multiple trades.

The state-funded Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (Kotra) says Korean job seekers should take advantage of the situation in Japan as more Koreans look abroad to find better quality jobs.

In Japan’s construction industry, technicians who are skilled in multiple tasks, especially in the reinforced concrete making process, are in demand. Project managers who understand multiple fields such as civil engineering, plumbing and electrical wiring are also sought after.

According to the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the job openings-to-applicants ratio in the construction industry last month reached over six, meaning more than six jobs were available for every applicant. The figure is higher than last year’s highest monthly ratio of 5.6.

A report conducted by multiple construction organizations in Japan said around 80 percent of surveyed companies acknowledged an urgent need for multiskilled workers.

To meet the demand for such workers, the Japanese government has taken an active role in training multiskilled technicians and workers and launched a support program in May.

Nikka-Home, a renovations company, is an example of Japanese firms using multiskilled technicians. The company, which specializes in renovating plumbing in kitchens and bathrooms, takes on entire renovation projects without the help of other specialized construction companies.

Nikka-Home utilizes its 900 multiskilled technicians to supervise the entire process from beginning to end, unlike conventional construction companies that have specialized branches that separately handle each stage of the construction process.

For Nikka-Home, the incorporation of such technicians has made work faster and 20 percent cheaper compared to its competitors.

The company has won over the trust of many customers. Last year, it oversaw 50,400 renovation projects, more than any other specialized renovation company in Japan, and recorded 30 billion yen ($264.59 million) in sales.

High demand for multiskilled workers in Japan is an opportunity for the already numerous job hunters in Korea who are looking outside the country to find employment.

Job stability has worsened over the years in Korea. According to government data, the number of non-regular employed workers, who receive less benefits and pay than regular workers, is at an all-time high at 6.61 million, accounting for 33 percent of the total workforce as of August this year.

The situation has led some Koreans to look for jobs outside of the country.

Job seekers who received support from the government and found jobs abroad increased from 1,607 in 2013 to 5,118 in 2017. Japan has been the most popular destination last year.

As professional certifications are needed in order to be recognized as a multiskilled technician in Japan, applicants can take education programs provided for free through government support.

Kotra also hosts job fairs for applicants looking to settle in Japan. The job fairs include Japan’s second largest rental housing construction company Daito Trust Construction and engineering company JGC.

“The number of young Koreans finding jobs in Japan is increasing,” said Koh Chung-seong, an official at Kotra’s Fukuoka branch in Japan. “They should look at the overseas employment opportunities as a multiskilled technician in the Japanese construction industry, which is enthusiastic about employing foreign talent.”

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