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The first stage in the HRM strategic planning process is forecasting (Gerhart, Hollenbeck, Noe, & Wright, 2010). Forecasting endeavors to predict which types of human resources will be needed in the organization in the future and seeks to delineate any shortages or surpluses of specific skill sets in the entity which could occur in the future (Ibid, 2010).
This type of planning is not only needed at the organizational level, however. It is also required by nations.
In Japan, for example, where this writer served nearly 16-years as an English teacher, the Bureau of Immigration in that country has very strictly enforced its immigration laws for many years now which has created a severe shortage of workers, most especially in kitanai, kitsui, and kikenna (dirty, difficult, and dangerous) “3-D” jobs such as road-repair work, trash pickup, sanitation facility work, construction work, heavy manufacturing work, and so forth.
By allowing its future vision of labor trends and human-resource pools to be extremely limited by very strict enforcement of its immigration laws, the Japan Bureau of Immigration has unwittingly created a severe labor shortage in sectors of the Japanese economy which require the use of roudousha (manual laborers), from other countries, to perform the hard and thankless jobs, like those mentioned above, which are so necessary for the orderly and safe conduct of a nation.
Because most Japanese people are no longer willing to do the “3-D” type of jobs noted above, foreigners have to do increasing amounts of the work required by those positions. Many of the expatriates doing those jobs are illegal because of the severe restrictions imposed by the Bureau of Immigration on so-called “unskilled” workers.
In the construction trade alone, there is a 45% shortfall of laborers because many older Japanese carpenters have retired and few young people want to do that sort of work. As a result, many construction companies are having to smuggle in laborers from countries such as Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Myanmar (Burma), among others.
Fortunately, for itself, Japan has a more liberal immigration policy toward skilled workers such as software engineers, IT people, and scientists, among others, but in the critical-skill areas just noted there is still a labor shortage, though not as severe as in the “unskilled” trades.
Moreover, the 9.0 magnitude earthquake/massive tsunami, of March 11, countless aftershocks, and crippled nuclear-power plants have prompted a number of expatriates to leave the country because of the seismic instability there, which does not augur well as a destination for people from other nations who might otherwise desire to work there.
Japan will have to do serious labor-pool forecasts on an ongoing basis and liberalize its immigration policies accordingly if it wishes to remain a force to be reckoned with in the global economy in terms of engineering, technology, science, and IT. America, too, must be very careful not to “throw the baby out with the bath water” when it comes to the strict enforcement of immigration laws because many of our best doctors, scientists, engineers, and IT people are from outside the United States and would like to live here permanently and contribute greatly to our nation if they were allowed to do so.
Source: Gerhart, Barry; Hollenbeck, John R.; Noe, Raymond A.; & Wright, Patrick M. (2010). Human Resource Management: Gaining a Competitive Advantage, 7th Edition, p. 193, McGraw-Hill Irwin, New York, NY.
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Dave S Morse
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