lifestyle

Older people go back to school to learn new skills

28 Comments
By Jessica Ocheltree

There’s been a lot of hand-wringing about Japan’s aging population—and rightly so. According to the internal affairs ministry, 23% of Japanese citizens are aged 65 or above, the highest rate in the world. And keep in mind that the life expectancy here is also a world-leading 82-plus. That’s a lot of retirement.

For many older Tokyoites, the prospect of two decades of idleness isn’t particularly appealing. So rather than installing themselves at the local seniors’ center or wandering in the park, they’re picking up a new set of employable skills at the Tokyo Metropolitan Vocational Skills Development Center (TMVSDC)—and heading back into the workforce.

With its main branch in Iidabashi, the school focuses on developing practical skills in fields that are more congenial to older workers, such as hotel and restaurant management. Students not only take courses but participate in on-the-job training via school events and work-study programs. And the classes are no place for slackers—the curriculum covers in six months what others cover in one to two years, with a total of 176 lecture hours and 634 hours of training.

Kimiyo Kajiyama, the student representative for the hotel and restaurant course, came into contact with TMVSDC when a friend invited her to a school-sponsored event. “The students were very energetic and their attitudes were positive,” says the 50-something Kumamoto native, who, before her retirement, worked in a corporate environment, including a stint with a multinational education company that sent her to Houston and LA.

Kajiyama was so impressed that she soon decided to get involved in the program, studying from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. five days a week. Her classes have ranged from hospitality theory to food safety and the finer points of sake, and she and her fellow students enjoy in-class visits by experts in the field, including representatives of high-end hotels like the Hyatt Regency and the Hotel Okura. “The instructors are very diligent and sincere, hardworking people. But they are very funny and glad to share their experience and knowledge with us,” she says.

Although not yet sure what she’ll do after graduation, Kajiyama is certain that she and other graduates have a lot to offer. “My classmates still want to participate in society through working. I think they want to be independent individuals to show the meaning of their existence to society. As the proverb says, ‘It is never too late to study.’”

This story originally appeared in Metropolis magazine (www.metropolis.co.jp).

© Japan Today

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.


28 Comments
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Let`s hope now that this highly discriminatory society actually allows them the opportunity to participate in society.

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This is a good thing for Japan. I am glad that this has started because there are so many adults in Japan with nothing to do bus gossip about each other. Now they can all learn something.

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Gotta be better than them sitting at home talking to themselves and going nuts!

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I fear Kirakira may be right... For the most part, elderly employment in Japan is limited to directing traffic in/out of pachinko car parks...

According to the internal affairs ministry, 23% of Japanese citizens are aged 65 or above

I think if weve learned anything in the past few months, its that these government figures regarding the elderly populace cannot be trusted ;-)

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Forced retirement here sucks. This is just a social club they are attending as they will never be employed.

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If Japan increased the pension age to 67 (like France is trying to do) and reduced the standard working hours for all these overworked younger people, there would be enough work for all these talented, mature and energetic 60+ year-olds...

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"Now they can all learn something" its kinda funny cuase it sounds like you mean they are adults and they still don't know anything yet. in many cases this seems very true.

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Forced retirement anywhere sucks, goddog! Some of these people will be employed. Fewer youths to fill those dish-washing / table-setting jobs. It'll have to be seniors or migrants.

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@kujiranikusuki-

"Now they can all learn something" its kinda funny cuase it sounds like you mean they are adults and they still don't know anything yet. in many cases this seems very true.

Perhaps they can start by teaching them that the ear-splitting screech that accompanies braking on their bikes, is the sound of metal against metal meaning that they have no brake blocks left, and should replace them. Hopefully this simple but useful info will filter its way down the "vertical society"

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@Tokyotales

When I was in Tokyo, I used to teach a Keio socioeconomics professor/Govt advisor. Apparently, raising the retirement age is on the cards.

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yes, it's going to be increased to 65, at least in academia.

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Heck! Why don't they just raise it to 75! A regular, healthy Japanese 75 year old is like a regular healthy American 30 year old.

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Lemme guess, they'll be taking the public bus to school. Now there will be even fewer seats...

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You can too teach an old dog new tricks!

"they'll be taking the public bus to school"

Not in Japan, they'll be taking the public train, or, if the school's close enough, shuffling along the streets.

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Sarge, you haven't taken a bus in a while. At least 80% of the passengers are elderly.

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combini, I got off the bus about an hour ago, and there wasn't a single eldery passenger on it.

Moderator: Back on topic please.

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"23% of Japanese citizens are aged 65 or above"

How many of these citizens are wizened?

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"life expectancy here is also a world-leading 82-plus"

And 87 for the women! Why do the women live so much longer? Is it because they're tougher, or they have easier lives than the men?

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I believe IBM required employees to retire at 50 - with the implication that they would start their own software/computer related business. If you knew you were going to retire so young, wouldn't you load up your resume with skills and expertise, too? Sadly, outside of McDonald's where can these senior citizens find work?

Does Japan have an equivalent to SCORE - Service Corps of Retired Executives? They're retired folk who help young uns start businesses.

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Why do the women live so much longer? Is it because they're tougher, or they have easier lives than the men?

Partly because we're tougher, partly because we never retire: a woman who no longer goes out to work usually still has a sit-in-front-of-the-telly-and-do-nothing husband to feed and clean up after, and after he's gone a sturdy network of friends and family to give her a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

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Cleo - Don't the men have a sturdy network of friends and family to give them a reason to get out of bed in the morning?

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Apparently it's not the same, Sarge - men are from Mars and subconsciously see their friends as rivals: when they have problems they tend to shut themselves up in their caves and brood instead of turning to friends for help as that would show weakness. Women in contrast gather together for support when there's a problem, and help each other out.

At least, as far as I remember that's what it sez in the book. It's a long time since I read it.

Older men can benefit from accessing their feminine side.

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The secret to a wonderful life is: GROW OLD GRACEFULLY!!!

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So how do the Japanese do it then, sam1633?!?

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I think it's great to have them in school. They have so much to give, forced retirement is wasting their talents and everything else. Think of the government resources alone abused and wasted.

Go Granny/Grandpa, Go!

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we never retire: a woman who no longer goes out to work usually still has a sit-in-front-of-the-telly-and-do-nothing husband to feed and clean up after

So ladies, be thankful for your lazy husbands, and instead of complaining that they don't lift a finger to help, remember that they are keeping you alive!

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So ladies, be thankful for your lazy husbands, and instead of complaining that they don't lift a finger to help, remember that they are keeping you alive!

lol

But if that's the only reason for keeping him around, a dog tends to be cleaner, less picky with food, and cheaper. Takes up less room in the bed, unless it's a Great Dane or an Irish Wolfhound, and can be dropped off at the kennels with minimum fuss when you want a few days away.:-)

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And 87 for the women! Why do the women live so much longer? Is it because they're tougher, or they have easier lives than the men?

I do not have it "easier" I have a child to raise, and to do that properly is a full time obligation, my "do nothing" EX is in collage =_= men are useless. Not to mention I'm pregnate with our second, so sarge, when you give birth (one of the worlds most painful experiences) THEN complain about how women have it easy. Take your own mother, was she a do nothing? It takes time, love, effort, and patiance to raise a child, its not a job we can quit, and most women keep they're corperate jobs even after giving birth, DO NOT COMPLAIN! ^ ^ we've earned the right to live longer.

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