The number of seniors registered with centers that offer employment geared toward people 60 and older has declined, as retirees opt for higher wages amid a hiring surge. Fewer than 700,000 seniors are registered for the first time in 19 years.
An increasing number of seniors are healthy and active, and some refuse to regard themselves as “silver,” a term used to label senior citizens in Japan.
Dubbed silver human resource centers, the sites were established to empower seniors and revitalize communities through employment. National and local governments subsidize operating costs for about 1,300 centers nationwide, where staff arrange work for seniors that entail short shifts and light tasks, such as weeding and cleaning. The average monthly pay, usually less than $400, is meant to supplement pensions.
According to the National Silver Human Resources Center Association, there were approximately 698,000 members at the end of fiscal 2020, down 17,000 from the previous year.
The model for the silver center was established in Tokyo in 1975 and became regulated in 1986, which spurred the growth of silver centers nationwide. By fiscal 2009, membership had surpassed 790,000.
But numbers have been declining since companies have raised the retirement age for employees and begun rehiring retirees. This comes as the government works to incrementally raise the age on public pension payments in the face of Japan’s aging society.
In addition, with the spread of COVID-19, more and more seniors have given up work.
In areas where population declines and other factors have led to a serious labor shortage, some centers have been unable to fill employment requests. The centers face other challenges as well. Job seekers eager to work don’t always have the experience or skills that align with available positions.
Some centers are attempting to increase membership by asking clients to broaden their employment options, to include such positions as nursery school and elder care assistants, and customer service representatives at supermarkets.