The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan



IT Professionals Sought As Talent Mismatch Intensifies

By Michael Craven
Senior Manager, Hays Japan Information Technology

Japan’s talent mismatch has been ranked the most acute in the Asia–Pacific region, according to the 2014 Hays Global Skills Index released in September.

This demonstrates the significant gap between the skills that businesses are looking for and those available in the labor market, with a particularly severe skills shortage in the IT field.

As many companies upgrade their IT infrastructure in Japan, new jobs are being created, and demand for IT professionals is increasing. However, the country’s ability to meet this demand is being hampered by its lack of highly skilled workers in this industry.

Japan received a very high score of 9.5 (out of 10) for talent mismatch in the Global Skills Index.

Of the 31 countries included in the index, it is behind only Ireland, Portugal, Spain, the United States—each of which scored 10.0—and the UK (9.6) for the severity of its talent gap.

Japan’s score rose from 9.1 in 2013, showing that the mismatch has intensified over the past year.

In addition to its high score for talent mismatch, Japan was given a moderately high score of 6.0 for its labor market participation indicator, which shows that the proportion of working-age people is not rising.

This means that there are currently no additional human resources to meet hiring demand.

So what does this mean for companies and employees in Japan? The increasing mismatch between the skills employers need and those available on the market continues to affect the ability of businesses and the economy to reach their full potential.

While progress has been made in some areas, the lack of flexibility seen in traditional Japanese hiring practice indicates that challenges will be ongoing for some time.

Although the government is endeavoring to widen the talent pool, the Japanese regulatory system and approach to diversity thus far suggest that competition for talent will remain fierce given the improving economy.

Jobs in IT
According to the latest “Hays Quarterly Report” for October to December 2014, there are new jobs in the IT sector for business analysts, project managers, and internal IT support engineers.

There has been a noticeable trend this year for employers to hire candidates with certain core technological skills. Companies in Japan have been less focused on outsourcing, as they look to align their technology functions to gain a competitive advantage.

Business analysts who have strong skills in evaluating an organization’s processes and systems are highly sought after, as these workers can help establish more efficient processes and assess a company’s business model and technological integration.

Candidates with relevant IT–industry work experience, such as business and systems analysis, systems development life cycle management, and delivery of vendor solutions will be in increasingly high demand.

Meanwhile, project managers are needed to work alongside analysts, to manage the delivery of new IT-related projects. Candidates need project management, leadership, budgeting, and general IT skills to be considered for these roles.

Internal IT support engineers are also being hired as both permanent and temporary contractors.

These specialists are being brought on to support new IT systems and infrastructure initiatives implemented as a result of companies’ increased confidence in the market.

These professionals are responsible for monitoring, maintaining, and troubleshooting an organization’s internal IT applications and infrastructure. Candidates with strong technical support ability who can work calmly and logically under pressure will be most in demand.