Japan to log all construction workers as labour shortage intensifies

In a bid to deal with a worsening skills shortage, Japan’s infrastructure ministry plans to compile a database of all construction workers in the country – roughly 3.3 million – starting next year.

By capturing data on workers’ age, skillset and job experience, the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry hopes better to muster scarce workers and deploy them where they are most needed.

Entry into the database would be voluntary, and the ministry is "leaning toward" having industrial associations operate the system, reports The Yomiuri Shimbun.

With its ageing population, slowing birth rate and strict immigration policies, Japan’s workforce is shrinking.

In construction the issue has sparked fears of rising costs and decreasing capacity. The number of construction workers dropped to 3.31 million in 2015, about 70% of its 1997 peak of 4.55 million.

Only about 10% of construction workers are below the age of 30.

The issue is so serious that this year politicians floated the controversial idea of letting more foreign workers in.

For the database, in addition to their names and dates of birth, workers would be asked to submit their qualifications, employment history and any training received.

Yomiuri Shimbun reports that the ministry will also urge industry associations to make employment contracts more transparent and improve working conditions and pay.

Image: Japanese worker during reconstruction after the 2011 tsunami and earthquake (Wikimedia Commons)

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