EICN Tokyo: Securing the right talent

It was a pleasure to host our Tokyo CXOs at The Westin Tokyo today, where we discussed a topic that this year tops the priority list for executives: acquiring and retaining high-quality talent.

Special thanks to our discussion leaders:

  • The Honorable Masahiko Shibayama (Former Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology & Member of House of Representatives), 
  • Jordan Jarjoura (Head of Talent Capabilities at MESHD),
  • Justin Scarpone (Senior Vice President & General Manager, Asia Pacific at Scopely Inc.) and 
  • Yohei Shibasaki (Founder and CEO of Fourth Valley Concierge Corporation)

Their insights stirred an in-depth discussion amongst our members, and their presence made for some quality networking time after the event.

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For those who missed it, here are some key takeaways from the discussion:

  • Technology has changed the way that companies vet potential new hires. What matters to bosses is figuring out who would have a positive impact on the company’s needs – an equal challenge whether scrolling through a professional network profile or poring over a paper resume.
  • Over the past ten years, Japan increased the size of its foreign labour force more than any other country, from 600K in 2011 to 1.7m today. Companies have hired thousands of blue-collar workers, mostly from South-east Asia, to cope with intrinsically high labour costs and decades of deflationary pressure. As economic conditions in countries like Vietnam improve, many are going home while fewer are coming here.
  • White-collar workers, on the other hand, have a relatively easy time to come to Japan if they so choose. Professional work visas are issued for as little qualification as a bachelor’s degree and a prospective employer’s endorsement. However, Japan is still not a popular destination for highly skilled foreigners, due to the language barrier, a sense of pessimism about tepid economic growth and an ageing society, as well as low wages.
  • Looking abroad is not the only solution for Japan’s quest to secure and retain high quality talent. Better working conditions for women and senior workers could contribute significantly to overall employee productivity. Companies should make clear their commitment to all their staff in terms of guaranteeing long-term career opportunities.