The country of the rising sun has the fourth largest number of IT employees in the world, but their skills do not meet today's needs.

With very few IT engineers graduating with a standard STEM degree - which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math - Japan clearly sees a bleak future and the need to invest

With very few graduate IT engineers holding a standard STEM degree - which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math - Japan clearly sees a bleak future and the need for a lot of investment. more on human resources.

“We couldn't develop a product demand forecasting system, even though we desperately needed it, ” a food industry executive revealed painfully when talking about digital transformation. Although his company has increased its IT staff by 1.6 times, they have not been able to train these employees to familiarize themselves with today's most advanced technologies.

Japan has no shortage of IT potential. The country's information technology industry, as of 2020, has 1.22 million engineers - the fourth most in the world. For comparison, the US has 4.09 million engineers, India has 2.32 million, and China has 2.27 million.

But in-depth IT skills are the key. The number of traditional IT workers, who develop websites and applications, accounted for 90% of the total IT team in Japan in 2018. Meanwhile, the number of senior IT workers who specialize in artificial intelligence and networked smart devices (which we often call IoT), account for only 10%.

Using 2018 as a landmark, Japan's shortage of senior IT human resources is forecasted to be 13 times more complicated by 2030, when the total number of AI and IoT engineers that need to be added will reach 270,000. The demand for this team is expected to grow so quickly that even if Japan focuses on training traditional IT engineers in digital transformation skills, the problem will not be solved. .

According to a forecast by the US research firm Gartner, the popularity of technology will open the door to allow anyone to develop websites and applications on their own, of which more than 70% of applications are developed for businesses. Industry will be platforms that require no or very little code and require no programming skills. Instead, engineer Ken Sakamura of the University of Tokyo says that individuals with the ability to solve AI and IoT problems will be highly valued.

Demand for graduates with STEM degrees will increase. In the US, STEM graduates from Stanford and other well-known universities can easily find jobs at a large technology company, or even start their own businesses.

Graph of Japan's IT human resources and shortages by year (in millions): dark green is traditional human resources, orange is senior human resources, light green is the amount of traditional human resource shortage, orange is pale is the amount of shortage of senior human resources.

When Nikkei and Human Resocia analyzed data from the OECD, they found that in 2018, there were 29,000 graduate students in Japan with majors in the natural sciences, mathematics, and statistics. . In the same year, the corresponding figure in the US was… 10 times more.

In Japan, the percentage of students graduating from those fields on average every year from 2014 to 2018 actually declined by 0.4%. While in France, the rate increased by 10% and in Italy it increased by 7%.

Japanese universities are looking to reverse that trend. At Shiga University, which was the first in Japan to open a data science department in 2017, students collaborate with Daihatsu Motor and other companies. The Department of Information Network Design and Innovation at the University of Tokyo offers a variety of courses that integrate computer science, design, and marketing.

Professor Kaoru Kawamoto of Shiga University emphasized the importance of changing training content to meet societal needs, rather than simply following STEM programs.

The United States has many consulting organizations that provide information to universities about the talent pools corporations are looking for, showing that industry-academic partnerships can really bring success. significant results.

In Japan, a number of corporations have embarked on training and hiring senior IT engineers. For example, Daikin Industries in the near future will set up a university of its own, cooperate with Osaka University, to produce 1,500 AI and IoT experts by 2023, and then assign them to departments. service and marketing. Z Holdings, the parent company of Yahoo Japan, also plans to increase its AI workforce to 5,000 or more between now and 2025.

In the world's digital competitiveness ranking, which is based on analysis by the International Management Development Institute, a business school in Switzerland, Japan's overall ranking has dropped to 27th place. in 2020, compared to 20th place in 2013. What's the cause? Obviously because the number of digital personnel is too low.

And Japan certainly does not stand by and watch itself fall behind. Universities and businesses are coming up with countermeasures, hoping to assemble a team of IT engineers of both quality and quantity, to help further improve capabilities. competition of the country in the future.

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