Half of professionals in Japan doubtful of progression prospects: survey


Half of all bilingual professionals in Japan are unsatisfied with the progression opportunities offered by their current companies according to the Robert Walters Employee Insights Survey. And when considering new job openings, a set pathway to promotion ranks the highest amongst respondents, followed by opportunities for internal transfers locally or abroad.

The 2013 Survey examined worker sentiment on career progression and international opportunities in a rapidly globalizing Japanese market.

Rises in the number of new and replacement openings in Japan has created stronger worker sentiment and movement of professionals between companies. This activity is placing pressure on employers to not only attract, but also retain talented professionals.

According to the survey, over half of respondents feel their current progression opportunities are either weak (30.5%) or very weak (26.2%). In contrast, less than one in 10 workers would rate their advancement chances strong (7.6%) or very strong (2.1%). One third of professionals (33.7%) feel their opportunities are adequate.

Nathaniel Pemberton, associate director for Robert Walters Osaka, comments: "With low confidence for their advancement prospects, professionals will increasingly look to outside companies to further their careers. This is a troubling sign for employers as they will need to reengage and reward their current staff to retain strong performers."

The survey also examined what type of career progression is most influential when workers consider a new job opportunity. Among the respondents, a set pathway to promotion is the most influential (41.1%). Companies that provide transfers to other offices whether in Japan or abroad also rank highly (31.2%), followed by employers that offer education and training programs (25.5%). The least influential reason for joining a firm is whether a potential employer offers secondments to other departments (2.2%).

Pemberton said: "Attracting staff to your organization does not necessarily require strong financial incentives. More workers are taking a long-term view for their careers, so unsurprisingly many favor a transparent promotion structure that provides concrete goals to work toward. Internal mobility and training initiatives also rank highly amongst respondents, which is indicative of job seekers looking to position their careers favorably for the future."

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If you are competent and want a raise in Japan, really the only realistic way is to change companies and get a big bump in raise. I think this applies in the US as well, except perhaps in sales.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Don't you get normal raises annually? People talk about wages "stagnating" but I've never held a job where I didn't get a raise every year.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

In short, just get out and start over because this is reality and take full responsibility for what has happened to your career relieving all others of blame. You must push your performance to new heights, delivering mighty result with an unwavering positive attitude. So leave you must and eventually you will probably come to realize and question why you didn't get out earlier. Thus take action, get moving and once you plant your feet in new territory, with time you'll be on top of the world again.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Sadly, in Japan you're screwed if you didn't graduate from a japanese college. That is not true EVERY time but most times. That sucks!

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

First of all it should be obvious to Japanese & non-Japanese alike who are bi-lingual that for most future opportunities are as bleak as if you were Japanese & can only speak Japanese.

Sucks, but its reality for most, I suggest if you can, to try to make a go of things on your own, work for yourself or find a few like minded individuals & start something.

Otherwise, unless your one of the few who can job hop to more success & pay over time than you are going to be stuck in the mind numbing world of the average salaryman & be wishing that you took up a language other than Japanese or if your Japanese you dream of leaving these isles!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Just having bilingual (or even multi-lingual) skills has never been a "free-ride" to success.

I remember doing a sales call on a senior executive at Toyota Corporations Tokyo office in Iidabashi. His personal driver was fluent in English - but talked to much. He had to show off. When I complimented the executive at having such competency at a driver's level, his response was "Yes, thank you... such a pity!"

I never forgot that comment. I'm absolutely bilingual in Japanese and English. I also speak a little French and Bahasa Indonesia. But, to be president and CEO of the company I work for now, language is only "benri" (convenient). I never forgot the advice I learned nearly twenty-five years ago. True "professionalism" is not about language skills.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Most Japanese companies that already have success don't take their international relations as seriously because it is entirely different to how they made their success in the first place (usually manufacturing and research and development). Being global means making smart connections and creating wider networks to sell your products and services, including taking advantages of niche markets. But many companies don't realize what they have to do differently, and what they have to do the same. Thus many companies will higher more and more people with international skills, yet not give them opportunity to use them efficiently nor effectively.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's not that I'm 'doubtful' about my prospects with my current company, I know for sure that there aren't any. The only way to receive training and progress to positions of responsibility is to be hired straight out of university and hang around until you're old enough. Given the limitations, I am now looking for something else, which I think is a real shame given the relationships I have built up over the years. Robert Walters, よろしくお願いします。

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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