Can Japan Meet the Talent Demands in 2020? Hint: Demands Aren’t Being Met in 2016

manpower-talent-shortage-2016
From the 2016/2017 Manpower Talent Shortage Survey

Another study has revealed another issue in planning for Tokyo2020. According to a Japanese Sports Agency panel, there are concerns that Japan won’t have the necessary manpower to ensure drug testing is handled effectively and in a timely fashion.

According to a recently released report, Tokyo2020 will need approximately 200 analysts rotating in round-the-clock shifts every day during the Olympic Games, in order to complete an estimated 6,500 tests. Each test has to be completed within 24 hours of receipt of the sample.

Currently, there is only one lab in Japan that can conduct drug tests to the standards of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and they employee 15 analysts. Their turnaround time for a drug test is 10 days.

I have no doubt that Tokyo2020 will figure out how to efficiently and effectively process the required drug tests by the time the Tokyo Olympics roll around, but it will not be easy to find the talent. As a Human Resource professional working in Japan, I am fully aware of how fierce the war for talent is in this country. Manpower.com, in its most recent Talent Shortage Survey, announced that the country where employers are having the most difficulty filling roles is Japan, by far. In fact, Japan has been the most difficult country since 2010.

Japan, in comparison to other countries in Asia, has a significantly low level of English capability, which impacts all organizations in Japan that require involvement in international endeavors or global markets. The technical sales, managerial, IT, engineering or design skills may exist in Japan in abundance, but the inability to communicate efficiently in a common global language like English can often slow down the pace of cross-boundary projects. And one of the biggest cross-boundary projects to hit Japan, perhaps the biggest, will be the 2020 Olympics.

Right now, the number of people in the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (TOCOG) who can interact with members of the IOC and individual National Organizing Committees has got to be low – in other words, so much is dependent on the few people who can speak English.

In 2020, who will be the ones who will coordinate with all of the visiting national teams, the international press, the highly technical demands of the dozens of international sports federations, the thousands of foreign athletes, and the tens of thousands of foreign tourists that arrive en masse for a few weeks in July, 2016?

More interestingly, what innovative ideas will emerge in the coming four years that will help Japan meet the demanding requirements of Tokyo 2020? What technologies will emerge as game changing? What tweaks to hiring or immigration policies will be revealed?

The Olympics can be a wonderful opportunity for change and growth in Japan.