While the Japanese government is trying to help people in the employment "ice age" generation find jobs, a small number of pubic-sector job positions are attracting numerous applications.
Meanwhile, some private-sector companies are struggling to hire new workers despite their labor shortages. Yusuke Shimoda, senior economist at the Japan Research Institute, said that job seekers tend to think that "work conditions at sectors suffering labor shortages are tough."
As of Thursday, 33 local governments had newly employed or planned to employ people in the ice age generation, according to the internal affairs ministry.
In Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture, western Japan, 1,816 people applied for only three positions offered by the government of the city, meaning one in about 600 applicants would be able to land a job. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry had applications from 1,934 people for 10 positions.
People in the employment ice age generation refer to those who graduated from school around between 1993 and 2004, after the collapse of Japan's bubble economy in the early 1990s. Many of the them, who are now in their 30s and 40s, were unable to find stable jobs.
In the private sector, major staffing company Pasona Group Inc. plans to hire 300 employees for positions related to regional revitalization. Some 400 people have applied so far.
"We may have been able to attract job seekers by setting regional revitalization as the theme of the recruitment campaign," a Pasona public relations official said.
In August last year, Hello Work public job-placement offices started accepting new job offers exclusively for the ice age generation from firms across the country. Companies had offered a total of 1,290 positions by the end of last year, but only 54 people were hired.
There has been a discrepancy between supply and demand in the labor market, analysts said. While about half of the offered positions were driving jobs or for transportation services, for which manpower shortages are serious, many job seekers hope to work in clerical positions, regardless of whether they are from the ice age generation or not.
In September last year, major logistics company Sankyu Inc. unveiled a plan to employ 300 regular workers over three years.
It had received applications from a little more than 60 people by the end of 2019, but only 10 of them were employed. In many cases, applicants did not have the required background or conditions were not met, according to the company.
The government aims to increase the number of regular workers from the ice age generation by 300,000, mainly in the private sector, but the road is tough ahead.