Japanese construction, which has deeply suffered from the country’s prolonged labor shortage, still expects a far worse situation for the next decade with at least a million people who are set to retire from the industry. By 2025, a potential shortage of 8 million workers is expected. One of the solutions that the country has tried is to integrate robots that can haul supplies, weld beams, and install ceiling panels.
Japanese construction is continuously being dominated by robots due to lack of human resources to man its many construction sites. Apparently, one robot per five construction workers is already distributed in many areas to aid the lack of manpower.
While robots are saving thousands of hours of labor for tasks a human usually performs, their participation in the workforce is kept to the minimal to the most laborious tasks in construction. Automation and the robot revolution are just beginning in the Japanese construction industry and more innovation are expected to come in succeeding years.
Unlike other countries where workers are afraid of losing their jobs to machinery, Japanese construction companies are more afraid of not being able to engineer robots before their construction workers reach their retirement age.
New robots are being developed to support high-rise construction. In Japanese construction, however, many have been developed, but only a few were deployed. Robot labor, as projected, will only make up about 1 per cent of each construction projects due to the complexity of the overall construction works.
Japan’s ageing population will soon leave many industries and the technology needed to fill in each vacancy might not be ready enough. Apart from employing robots, Japanese construction companies tried to increase pay, improve working conditions, encourage female participation, and global construction recruitment of foreign workers to boost construction activities.
Global Construction Recruitment
The birth rate has been declining in Japan for years already which has to lead to the shrinking of the Japanese construction workforce. Most construction workers are getting older and many contractors are having a hard time attracting young people. Even with the booming of Japanese construction, contractors are struggling to fill labor shortages.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe once introduced a new visa for non-professional foreign laborer as he expressed the need of the country to rush recruitment of foreign talents to abridge labor shortage. Japan and the Philippines have previously signed an agreement to conduct training of construction workers to boost the supply of qualified manpower. Applicants to Japan must first undergo training and study their language and culture.
The Philippines is in a good position to help Japan mitigate its recruitment challenges given the fact that the country is known for only accepting high-skilled talent from overseas.
The country has long lagged from other developed countries in terms of integrating foreign workers into local industries. But with the ageing, shrinking workforce, Tokyo breaks this taboo to welcome half a million low-skilled foreign workers in the coming years.
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