In order to catch up in the delayed digitisation that has been exposed by the spread of Covid-19, there is an urgent task to secure and train human resources in information technology. The public and private sectors must work together to strengthen their efforts.
This year’s white paper on the Japanese economy and public finance provided a detailed analysis of the impact of the pandemic on the economy and the issues that must be overcome. The white paper focuses on the uneven distribution of human resources as a factor that has hindered progress in digitisation.
The white paper pointed out that about 70 per cent of IT-related human resources who work on systems design, information processing and other services are concentrated in the tech industry in Japan. In the US, the percentage stops short of less than 40 per cent and such human resources work in a wide range of fields such as the finance, services and manufacturing industries, according to the white paper.
This is certainly because corporate executives outside of the IT industry in Japan have been slow to recognise the importance of such personnel and have not actively recruited them.
Companies without in-house experts tend to be at the mercy of the tech companies they are outsourcing the building of computer systems to, resulting in inefficient and user-unfriendly products.
Having in-house experts makes it easier to develop and operate superior systems that are useful to a company’s business.
In recent years, the competition to secure tech-savvy human resources has become fierce, and tech companies such as NEC Corp and Fujitsu Ltd are beginning to offer high remuneration based on ability, regardless of age. Other industries should reconsider strategies to secure such human resources.
The demand will increase further with the use of artificial intelligence and big data. Due to the pandemic, such services as online shopping and video and music streaming are booming. People with expertise are essential.
However, there is a shortage of necessary human resources in this regard and there is estimated to be a shortage of maximum 790,000 people in the field by 2030. There is an urgent need for fostering such human resources for the future.
It is advisable for companies to encourage their employees to acquire such skills through in-house training and forms of assistance.
The government should provide working people with opportunities to re-learn and expand vocational training to foster human resources skilled in digital technologies. Reviewing higher education and attracting outstanding talented foreign personnel should also be among the matters for consideration.
The lack of human resources in public administration is also serious. According to the white paper, less than one per cent of the total number of tech-savvy human resources work in the public sector, including government offices. This is far different from the US, where about 10 per cent of such human resources work in the public sector.
The delay in the digitisation of public administration has hindered the smooth provision of cash benefits to the public, among other services. It is also important to increase the number of tech-savvy people in public administration to improve services for residents.
To revitalise the economy, measures must be implemented to deal with such issues affecting all residents.
Editorial/THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN (JAPAN)/ASIA NEWS NETWORK