Prof. Alan Walker - University of Sheffield. Sheffield, , GB

Prof. Alan Walker Prof. Alan Walker

Professor of Social Policy and Social Gerontology | University of Sheffield

Sheffield, GB

Professor Alan Walker was the Director of FUTURAGE, the European Research Area in Ageing and The UK New Dynamics of Ageing Programme

Japan puts its seniors to work

Japan puts its seniors to work 2016-09-06
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Dr. Jane Barratt Prof. Sarah Harper Dr. Alex Ross Dr. Anthea Tinker Prof. Alan Walker

In a global climate of concern around ageing populations, Japanese employers are discovering that silver is a valuable resource that can be spun into business gold. Older workers offer knowledge, how-to, and experience unmatched by younger cohorts.

In a recent essay on Japan's older workforce, the Financial Times highlights the accomplishments of Sayaka Honjo, who, at 76, is cosmetic company Pola's top sales representative, posting monthly sales of ¥150m, or $1.4 million U.S. dollars. Honjo is not an outlier; among Pola's 50,000 sales representatives are 5,500 people in their 70s, 2,500 in their 80s, and 250 in their 90s. Pola benefits from their older salespeople's capacity to form long-lasting community connections. Says 83-year-old saleswoman Miyoko Sugiyama, "I won't retire as long as my clients want me."

Metal fabricator Isoda regards older workers in a similar, positive light. A decade ago, the Tokyo company discarded rules mandating retirement at age 65. Employees like Kenji Sato, who is 71, are able to put their years of experience to good use in training new generations of workers and maintaining superior quality. Says Seto, an instructor for colleagues in their 20s and 30s, "I want to pass on to them every technique I've mastered."

The International Federation on Ageing comprises government and non-government members in 62 countries, including Japan, and represents some 50 million older people. The IFA's Expertfile is home to a number of experts in the fields of ageing, employment of older adults, and retirement. Our experts are available to speak to media regarding employment trends, worker longevity, and international attitudes regarding older workers and retirees.


Japan puts its seniors to work

Japan is ahead of the curve when it comes to putting seniors to work. As more employers are discovering, silver is a valuable resource that can be spun into business gold.