TAIP Connections: An Interview Series with our Associate Members
Our Associate Members provide valuable resources and support to the international community in Japan. Through these interviews, we will showcase their diverse range of services and expertise.
Interview with Peter Lackner of Jobs In Japan
Our first interview is with Peter Lackner, President of Jobs In Japan and a part of the TAIP Publicity team. Peter discusses how Jobs In Japan stands out from other platforms, shares insights on the English teaching profession and the job market in Japan, and discusses benefits for preschools and kindergartens seeking qualified teachers. He also touches on notable trends in the job market during the post-pandemic era.
How does Jobs in Japan stand out from other job-seeking platforms in the Japanese market?
ジョブ・イン・ジャパン(Job in Japan）は、日本市場において他社の求職者向けプラットフォームと比較して、どのように際立っていますか？
Peter: We understand that we need to serve two types of people, job seekers AND employers. So we have reasonable prices so employers who aren’t massive companies can afford to use our service, and job seekers get a wider variety of independent businesses to choose from. With our site’s main focus being education, the job seekers are mostly those interested in teaching related positions.
Jobs in Japan has been around for a long time and has great trust from the many websites that link back to us, and we have lots of great articles with how to’s, experiences and perspectives on living and working in Japan.
Our site has been updated to make it easier to search, and job seekers can also set their resumes to searchable so companies can contact them about opportunities that fit their qualifications. We also created the First Round Interview system, where people can pre-record their answers to some common questions and show off their personality, something that is impossible to do with just a paper resume.
How do you see the future of the English language profession and the job market for teachers in Japan evolving over the next 5-10 years?
Peter: In person teaching is something that will always be valued, so I don’t see that changing very much. People are very concerned about AI replacing jobs, especially with language learning models being integrated into apps and online learning platforms. But especially for the English teachers who come to our board for jobs, I am certain that there will be work for them because humans are not robots. We do not learn language simply based on inputs and outputs, but from relationships and connections. One of the best things a teacher can do to make themselves irreplaceable is not only to have a great fundamental understanding of the science of language learning, but also to be a representative of their culture to the language learners in the classroom. Many people, especially in the countryside, rarely interact with non-Japanese and if you can connect with them and show them that your culture is not something to be feared, but something exciting and interesting for them, then you can reach anybody in a way that AI language models will never be able to do.
About 65% of our registered job seekers currently live in Japan, so most of the teachers using JobsinJapan.com are already accustomed to living in Japan.
Even if one used a more expensive recruitment agency or staffing agency (haken), the incoming foreigner would still need the same support services when first coming to Japan including finding an apartment, registering at city hall, getting a bank account, phone, etc.
Job listings which clearly state the benefits and support, in addition to the salary and requirements, get considerably more applicants. Even qualified teachers want to know if he/she is going to be thrown in the deep end without any support.
More than a challenge in seeking employment, foreign job seekers often complain about a mismatch between the job description and what happens in the interview or at the job.
In addition to having the job description be more like a landing page with a holistic approach to promoting the position (text, photos, video, maps, screening functions, etc), we have an option video where the employer can easily (fast, simple and included free) have a hiring manager video interview.
What specific benefits and features make Jobs in Japan the best choice for preschools and kindergartens seeking qualified teachers, compared to other recruitment methods?
Peter: Unless you want to pay more for the same candidates/job seekers, there is little benefit to using a recruiter or staffing agency. There are a number of education industry recruiters and agencies that use our site, so it is very possible that using these other resources will give you the exact same applicants/candidates; so, you would just be paying for the middleman to do something that you can easily do by yourself on JobsinJapan.com.
A lot of people are now using aggregating sites like “Google for Jobs” to find positions as they can just search like they do for everything else (A job resource needs to have their job posting code integrated with Google to be listed which we are). So why would you spend more money on a site that simply gets aggregated the same way. We offer more reasonable rates than our main competitors so employers can afford to show off their jobs to just as many if not more people, because we’re on top of our game getting pages on our site listed on Google for Jobs.
How does the international education market differ from other employment sectors in Japan?
Peter: By “International Education Market '', it is hard to lump everything together as we have Assistant Language Teachers (ALT), English Conversation Schools (Eikwiawa), International Preschools, International Schools, Corporate training, etc.
As an industry, education has never been known to pay high salaries. The wages for teachers have not gone up, and in most cases, the pay for teachers has gone down on average over the years which I unfortunately do not see changing. There are entry-level, low-skilled, non-physically demanding factory jobs targeting foreigners that pay more than most teaching jobs; just supply & demand for market needs.
The reason for the low pay is not just due to “Yarigai sakushu” ( やりがい搾取) or “passion pay” which allows for talent exploitation by employers (unpaid internships, etc.). Japan is still a top destination for those that want to teach abroad and as it is pretty easy to get a visa to teach in Japan, so there is little incentive for employers to offer a higher salary. (For ALT salaries, this is a bit different as it is not simply supply and demand, but agencies bidding for Board of Education contracts which often select the lowest bidder meeting the criteria given).
This gets worse due to many customers (i.e. parents) not being able to judge quality with school owners doing a poor job at promoting what makes them special. At an Eikaiwa School Owners event which I attended, one of the speakers asked how many of the owners felt they gave better quality lessons than the chain schools. I can’t remember seeing any hands not going up. Then when asked how many of the schools charged a higher rate than the chains, very few hands were raised.
There are still many opportunities for teachers who take their job seriously. If you just want to do a kind of “working holiday” in Japan for a year or two, you can’t expect the pay to be excellent. But if you get some qualifications and take the job seriously, we frequently have higher salary teaching positions on the board for committed teachers who can demonstrate their ability to teach academic test prep or at private and international schools who hold both their teachers and students to higher standards.
As Japan continues to adapt to the post-pandemic "new normal," what notable trends or changes have you observed in the job market or among job seekers in Japan?
Many of us complain about how slowly Japan adapts to new technology; however, Japan has really embraced online solutions and blended learning solutions with many schools investing in modern education tools.
While there are more limitations to what online lessons can do with young learners, corporate budgets and Japan’s newly found acceptance / partial acceptance of Remote Work (aka “Work from Home”) has seen a boom in online teaching roles.
Unfortunately, these roles pay significantly less than in-person roles and there is more competition as physical location is not really a consideration.
The technology changes, including all the e-learning solutions, along with Japan’s aging population is having a Darwinian effect on many of the corporate training, English Conversation Schools and English teachers applying to these schools. This should be expected by teachers recognising societal and technology shifts.
Video Interviews: For employers, online interviews are the new norm and “on-demand” or pre-recorded interviews have really taken off. JobsinJapan.com has a on-demand video interview system with pre-set questions which we request all job seekers to take in advance of applying for jobs. If an applicant does not take one, the hiring company can request the applicant to do this with a click of a button (we have a general set of questions and one set for qualified teachers) .
There are many employers using Jobs in Japan who won't even consider the applicant if he/she does not take this. It saves both parties time as the pre-recorded interview allows you to view more candidates, reduces discrimination, and levels the playing field as all candidates get the same questions and amount of time to answer.
How many times have given or taken an interview and known it was not a good match after the first 30 seconds? The video interview stops wasting people’s time when both parties know it’s not a good match. It’s definitely been a game changer.