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Will understanding the big trends help you develop your career in Japan?


When it comes to career path building, not all of us have to have the futuristic vision as Alvin Toffler's or James Canton's, but it makes sense to pay attention to global trends because jobs (and skills) destruction and creation are closely tied to it.

For starters, according to a McKinsey’s study, there are four big trends, which they call big disruptors: aging; technological change; increase global flow of goods, people, data and finance; and urbanization. These are disruptors not because they are new but because their accelerated pace is causing rapid unprecedented changes.

Although this does not intent to be a comprehensive list of jobs and skills – as it is mostly an initial reflection on this topic – below are some general ideas.


It has been predicted that by 2025 approximately 15 percent of the world’s population will be 60 years of age or older. This increases the demand for healthcare-related professionals, acutely in countries, such as Japan, that are “championing” in aging.

Technological change

This is the king of disruptors and probably one of the oldest. The machine-versus-man debate is as old as the age of industrialization. But its pace in the 21st century is breathtaking. From AI, IoT to 3D printing; there are more companies working on these technologies, from start-ups to more established one, and there is a growing demand for those possessing some key skills such as machine learning.


The more people move to cities the higher the infrastructure needs, and basically the higher the demand for everything; which, at the end, translates into more jobs.

And there is no slowing down considering the everlasting human pursue of higher income. According to the World Bank, virtually no country has graduated to a high-income status without urbanization at above 70% rate.

Increase global flow of goods, people, data and finance

According to McKinsey, global professional services are growing at a very fast pace. On the other hand, we have never been so globalized as we are now. And we have never seen before more needs for expertise in areas such as global supply chain or international business expansion.

This last one, for instance, represents a good opportunity for those with business-related majors and working experience at home, together with a decent Japanese language level.

How to go around it as foreigner in Japan?

Securing a career path in Japan has complications of its own because of the language and other factors. Nonetheless, there are also great opportunities for those who dedicate a bit of time to see the big picture in what is happening in the world. For instance, the combination of aging and low birth rate is making Japan suffer from human capital scarcity in general. In specific areas the scarcity is severe. We hear everywhere the phrase the war for talent. This is not mere literature, but you need to pay attention to what the world is needing (and will need) in terms of skills. That will give you an edge in securing a promising job in Japan.

Coming back to one of the hurdles foreigners face in Japan. As contradictive as it sounds, it is not easy to secure a job in Japan without a good command of Japanese, but many companies are willing to relax that for specific skills. It is difficult to know how much this Rakuten mood of English as official workplace language will spread. Therefore, split your spare time (besides hobby, friends and family) between mastering those in high demand key skill and your Japanese.