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By 2030, there will be no full-time employees, report speculates


Within 20 years, says Shukan Asahi (Oct. 7), “the full-time employee will have disappeared.”

Is this good news or bad? Calamity or opportunity? Is something being given us, or taken away?

“Working Conditions in 2035” is the title of a labor ministry report released in August. Among its 30 pages are several imagined “case histories.” The ones Shukan Asahi summarizes are pretty sunny. “A-san” (as we’ll call her) is 50 now, a company accountant. “Fifteen years ago” – which is to say, in 2020 – she lost her job to an artificially intelligent robot. But she’d known it was coming and prepared accordingly. She acquired qualifications as a health counselor and “now” – in 2035, aged 69 – works at a hospital, assisted by (you guessed it) an AI robot.

Then there’s “B-san,” an automaker employee who’s 36 now but (in the report’s scenario) will soon leave to start a company manufacturing driverless “guard machines” to scare intruders away from private property. By 2035, age 55, he’s filling orders from “more than 50 countries.”

A new world is being born as the old one dies. The cost of failure to adapt will be redundancy – and with life as long as it has become, that could mean a very long twilight. Imagine, on the other hand, a full and productive life free of office routine, office hours, office infringement on your private life.

“With smartphones and Skype and other communications devices,” says Tokyo University economist Noriyuki Yanagawa, “work can be set free of time and space. Full-time attendance at the office will be unnecessary, making it easier (for example) to combine work with child care and nursing.”

Young people in 2035 will be astonished to hear that once upon a distant time people joined companies out of college and, if possible, stayed for life. There will still be companies, but not as we know them now and have long known them. The office will be a base for the setting of goals and the launching of projects. The project once launched, you’re on your own – come back when it’s finished. And when it is, that as likely as not will terminate your involvement with that particular “employer.” It’ll be on to the next project – with another employer.

That’s one scenario; there are myriad others of course. Some companies even now are visibly on their way to 2035 – Shukan Asahi cites the software developer Cybozu as an example. Its employees have nine work formats to choose from. How many of your work hours do you want to spend at home, and how many at the office? Choose the format that fits your lifestyle. If it fails to satisfy, you can adjust it next month. And if you want to take on a side job, you are free to do so – the one proviso that your outside work not be to Cybozu’s detriment. You’re not even obliged to report it to your boss.

This is a foretaste and a model of things to come. Freedom to change implies an obligation to change – fast. For some it will be too fast. The old lifetime employment has no future, Shukan Asahi makes clear. It was secure but stifling. The air is fresher now, and will be fresher still in 20 years. As for security – “What’s that?” we can imagine a youngster asking in 2035, if by some unlikely chance the word happens to come up.

© Japan Today

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With piecemeal wages to match then most people will be economically stuffed....

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Right, tell THAT to all the people who are striving to be komuin.......

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The world is always changing, but there's one thing that's always a constant, and that is "if you don't prepare to change, you're preparing to lose".

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I certainly think it's a great way ('the' way) to approach work for the future and i would love that to be the norm. But I just don't see a world without sweatshops and other low paid workers who need to work +40hours/week to make ends meet.

I think the model described in this article can work in some industries, some companies and for some ppl but not for all. In the company i work for no one's currently working FT and as far as i know everyone is happy with that. But we are talking about a small comp doing well 'right now' and employees happy with earning slightly less as it suits our biz and our lifetsyle. In all cases, i reckon it's always and will always be the market that decides, not the workers.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

What about managers, directors, executives? Put them on zero hour contracts and part-time status?

Another major issue is companies losing their institutional memory of contacts, past business relationships and knowledge of completed projects, as staff all come, go and leave, taking their memories with them.

8 ( +9 / -1 )


But the way the world's going they won't "leave" with their memories, they'll "upload" them to a central computer or,eventually, directly to their replacements' brains.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Consider the source. Weekly magazines clearly know their market - people who are able to read but unable to think.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I wouldn't go as far as year 2030...by the way things are heading, I'll say it will incept right after the Tokyo Olympics monetary dust settles. May GOD help us all...Globally speaking!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Further to Yubaru's point, there is a huge trend for komuin to not be employed on full contracts. In some town halls, none of the new recruits are employed on the old conditions. Some evidence points to public workers being casualized faster than the private sector. My town keeps putting out job adverts for p/t workers on 800 yen an hour. The working poor now includes some komuin.

See http://synodos.jp/politics/16217. Search the page for "割合"

As for this article, it's sensational, but the general trend is right.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Change is good, but not all change. There has to be a fine line between rapid automation and jobs. It's fine to automate manufacturing, but if it is done too much, you displace workers. Displaced workers who are only temp employees will have less disposable income to buy luxury items or basic items too. So no one will be buying, or the price will be too high to afford them even though they are easier to make because there isn't enough of a demand.

I read once where an auto company said that they can make a car using all robots replacing the human workers. The auto union rep is said to reply: "I'd like to see a robot buy and drive one." A balance must be maintained or the house of cards will fall.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This is a problem, and one that the education system needs to accommodate. Most future workers will most likely be looking at multiple career changes throughout their lives and constant training and education to stay competitive. A living wage will also need to be introduced to avoid mass poverty

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Bla bla bla. They tried to make everyone contract workers in North America years ago, it failed. Look at the state of policing and tell me contract workers are a good idea. Predictions of the future should be based on data, this is based on stupid.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Lifetime employment has been a pipe dream for quite some time. I'm almost 40 and I'd say it all but died with my grandparents' generation. I don't think the "full-time employee" system need die. What does need to die here is the notion that full-time equals cannot be fired or rid of. The employment system in Japan that has been entrenched since the post war boom is basically just an extension of the welfare system. There's no reward for working efficiently, and there's no punishment for not doing so. May as well be collecting welfare at home.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

What a bunch of pie-in-the-sky malarkey. True, the world is changing and people (and especially governments) will need to adapt. However, the idea that every worker out there is evaluating their job on whether it will be outsourced, made redundant or given to a robot and is planning accordingly by going out to be retrained on their own dime (even if they knew what to train for!) is ridiculous.

Governments and businesses would do well to remember that without a well paid workforce of citizens paying taxes and buying the products companies make, politicians and CEOs own jobs and companies will go the way of the dodo.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I think this news for the average japanese salaryman would create more suicides. a lot of them don't know what to do with the free time given to them to spend it with the family, other than going to kyabakura and drinking.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Changing for GOOD IS ONE THING, changing for unhappiness and uncertainity is another. We have to consider, Why had the human world come to this ???.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A-san, at 55, lost her full-time job to an AI-robot. Not having enough money to pay for re-schooling, she tried to come by with several part-time jobs, some at night-shifts. Until those were replaced AI-robots or outsourced to Chinese migrants. She also has no right to a pension, since she did not work till the mandatory retirement age of 75. Meanwhile, her husband, who was laid off years ago is succumbing to a disease that healthcare does not cover. Since they cannot pay for their apartment anymore, they are considering moving to the immigrant slum on the edge of the city.

How funny.

There, fixed that for you.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Um, do the technocrats with economics degrees and the ones with engineering degrees and the ones with sociology degrees ever talk to one another? Those people are supposed to be clever. None of them seem to have degrees in common sense.

Or should we just sit around and wait for the revolution (like @Reckless suggests), or a really big EMP (electromagentic pulse)?

In the meantime, what are all the part-time workers going to do the other part of the time? I wonder if they will still have Pokemon Go for future exercise.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The way things are going now, this prediction sounds pretty logical. Already universities are telling their students to prepare for the day when artificial intelligence will be taking over the jobs they are targeting. So they had best prepare to revise their working plans. It doesn't sound nice, but that's what AI and other forms of revising the workplace will someday do ... eliminate regular workers and go full force with part-timers.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

This is all about the race to HELL!!

Its already been happening, technologically & financially(by big business & wealthy siphoning more than they EARNED!)

As I have said before the idiots in power/business are KILLING THE GOLDEN GOOSE, the market, the people that BUY stuff/services...........

If there is no one to buy, who the HELL are they going to sell to the bloody robots & AI.............

This AINT going to end well, even in a place like Japan where people suck up a LOT, just imagine the EXCITED States of America, you think people with all those guns & ammo will just sit there & watch their lives go down the drain....

The powers that be SERIOUSLY need to STOP their chronic short term, SELFISH thinking...........unlikely, bit if they don't, there will be HELL to pay.

There is no way societies have a hope in hell of coping with this kind of drastic change & surviving, at least they way I would like to live.

I truly feel for young people, the future is truly SCARY right now......

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Let me see, a world in which I have no security, no assurance that I will have a job next year or the year after--hmm do I buy a car? Even a cat? Nevermind a house, or ha ha ha, marriage--that requires bonuses, and children--well, someone has to take some time off and without a full time job, no maternity leave? In short, I just love how these filthy right-wingers posit and frame a discussion of their nightmare world in which this is only inevitable. It will be if people continue to be sheep and refuse to stand up for a better life. And this world is a world with a dead economy, no security, no big purchases. Period.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Casual, at will employment with no security and no benefits: it sounds a bit like life in many African countries. The rich will live in their walled-off enclaves surrounded by slums teeming with poor people. We need strong employment rights and tarriffs to prevent multinational companies from shifting production overseas. With the Abe / LDP government we are getting the opposite.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Let me see, a world in which I have no security, no assurance that I will have a job next year or the year after--hmm do I buy a car? Even a cat? Nevermind a house, or ha ha ha, marriage--that requires bonuses, and children--well, someone has to take some time off and without a full time job, no maternity leave?

Exactly, TheRat. Without a stable income no one can make long term purchase or plans. This spells disaster for the economy of most industrialized countries as they are 70% retail driven.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This assumes that something won't change, which is neoliberal capitalism. But the contradictions of capital are already becoming very difficult to manage and as we are informed above "Freedom to change implies an obligation to change – fast."

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I have also read that as per a research the most deserving candidates resume will get a maximum attention of 7 seconds by then.

Average resume will bet 2 to 3 seconds attention. Thats how bad its going to be due to huge jobless rate.

Selection would be biased towards pure on field experience(demand) rather than qualifications(supply).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Most people are only working half of the time now...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Tokyo University economist Noriyuki Yanagawa, “work can be set free of time and space. Full-time attendance at the office will be unnecessary, making it easier (for example) to combine work with child care and nursing.”

Further proof that it takes an academic with a graduate degree to spout total nonsense. Since when is everyone working in an office shuffling paper and trying to look busy? That may be where Todai grads end up, but there are still many people who do real work that cannot be done from home with Skype and a smart phone.

Must have been a slow week for Shukan Asahi. Usually their articles are not this bad.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Less employment is actually a good thing. More time to do leisure activities. What we need to do is provide basic housing, medical, and education. Food, housing above & beyond, and entertainment can be acquired through part-time work.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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