JILPT Research Report No.152
Working Styles, Vocational Capability and Career Development:
From the results of the “2nd Survey on Working and Learning"

March 25, 2013


Research Objective

The purpose of this study is to clarify the realities and problems of vocational capability development and formation as well as career formation, amid an increasing trend toward non-regular employment. Since the "1st Survey on Working and Learning" in FY2008, problems of non-regular workers have become more serious, and the vulnerability of their livelihoods has been brought to light. In light of such a situation, a 2nd Survey was conducted to study this issue, including trends since the Lehman Shock and how they relate to family formation and main earners.

Research Method

  • Questionnaire survey (“2nd Survey on Working and Learning”)

    The target population consisted of men and women aged 25-44, both in and out of employment (except students), living in 19 ordinance-designated cities across Japan and the 23-ward area of Tokyo. The survey was conducted under the area sampling method, based on a sample size of 4,000. Specifically, based on National Census, each target district was given a probability in proportion to target age populations, 200 locations were selected, and eight categories based on gender and age were set (men and women aged 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, and 40-44). The number of samples collected from each location was set in line with the ratios of persons in and out of employment (except students). The actual number of samples collected was 4,076.

    The survey was conducted between October 31, 2011 and January 31, 2012.

  • Research meetings

Major Findings

  • In this survey, an attempt was made to gain a broad-ranging grasp of OJT. As a result, compared to regular employees, fewer non-regular employees were found to receive guidance as part of their daily work, learn by watching how their superiors or coworkers worked, or experience an increase in the level or range of work assigned to them.
  • Among non-regular employees, training and other Off-JT or self-development were often enhanced when there were plentiful opportunities for changes in their work (such as a broadened range of work assigned to them, or a rise in the level of the work) or for vocational development through work (OJT), in the form of guidance or advice from superiors or coworkers.

Table 1 Workplace experience leading to enhanced vocational capability or knowledge in the last fiscal year

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Note *1: Proportion of respondents who answered "Often" or "Sometimes" to each question (other answer options were "Rarely", "Never", "No-one of that description" and "No manual")

  • Opportunities for skills development depend on the scale of employees in the company concerned. Although non-regular employees in larger-scale companies do not seem to have fewer opportunities for skills development than regular employees in smaller-scale companies, opportunities for skills development tended to be particularly rare for non-regular employees in smaller-scale companies.
  • Non-regular employees who preferred a working style with priority on the work content, such as wanting to apply their expertise or skills, tended to have more opportunities for skills development. Respondents in this group also had a strong work attitude of positively wanting to be assigned to previously unexperienced work and a high motivation toward skill improvement. Because of this attitude, they appeared to be given more guidance or advice and an increase in the range and level of their work. Conversely, non-regular employees with no clear ambition for their future working style tended to be less willing to accept previously unexperienced work and have low motivation toward skill improvement. Their opportunities for changes in their work content or advice and guidance tended to be limited. This was most common among male non-regular employees aged up to 34.

Table 2  Experience of capability development opportunities and skill improvement among non-regular employees, by career orientation

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1) Aggregated only from respondents with experience of employment by their current employer between April 2010 and March 2011. As such, the period of continuous employment subject to aggregation was at least seven months (survey point as of October 31st, 2011).

2) “Part-time workers”, “Arbeit (temporary workers)”, “Contract employees”, “Entrusted employees”, “Temporary employees” and “Agency workers” are aggregated as non-regular employees.

3) “Tend to prioritize work content” refers to respondents who answered “Want to work in management as a company executive or manager” and “Want to use my expertise and skills in my work”. “Tend to prioritize employment” refers to those who answered “Want to work without any particular insistence on status within the company or work content”, “Tend to prioritize private life” to those who answered “Want to work while placing priority on home life and social contribution, etc.”, and “Tend to go with the flow / Don’t know” to those who answered “Want to take things as they come” or “Don’t know”. Reponses of “Want to quit my job” and no response were excluded.

  • On studying whether OJT experience leads to an increase in future possibilities (or an awareness thereof), no statistically significant relationship was found among female non-regular employees. Among male non-regular employees, however, learning by watching how their superiors or coworkers work has a positive impact.
  • Of non-regular employees, except females with spouse (i.e. all males plus female non-regular employees without spouse), few have bright prospects for the future. While they have hopes of stable employment, they do not think their present job will lead to a future career, and tend to target capability development as a way of changing their working style. (Chapters 1 and 5)
  • Focusing on careers five years after leaving education (= graduates + dropouts), respondents who changed jobs twice before becoming regular employees are most positive in self-development. Particularly among females, the frequency of self-development is a factor that distinguishes this type from respondents who remain in non-regular employment over the long term. (Chapter 2)
  • The shift from non-regular to regular employment has been in a declining trend since the Lehman Shock. This is particularly true in higher age groups. In the previous survey, there were relatively good opportunities for an internal shift from the second half of the 20s, but a decreasing trend was seen in higher age groups. (Chapter 3)
  • The probability of being hired as a regular employee in mid-career is lower when the first job was non-regular. In terms of the degree of job retention after mid-career recruitment, on the other hand, there is no significant relationship with the employment format of the first job among females. Among men, however, there is a higher turnover rate after mid-career recruitment by those whose first job was in regular employment and who remained in their first job for at least a year, than by those who left their first job earlier or whose first job was non-regular. In mid-career recruitment, it seems highly likely that companies do not appropriately identify individuals’ propensity for job retention. (Chapter 4)
  • Awareness of job continuity and motivation to improve capability among women, in both regular and non-regular employment, is higher in workplaces where both equal opportunity for capability development and the development of work-life balance support have been achieved. In workplaces where only the former has been achieved, work morale is relatively low; in those where only the latter is in place, the motivation to improve capability is relatively low. (Chapter 6)
  • Wages for females tend to increase as the past experiences of Off-JT and self-development increase, and the negative impact of interrupted employment on wages is reduced by involvement in these. On the other hand, the wage gap between men and women is not filled even when controlling experiences for Off-JT and self-development. There is also a large gender gap in opportunities for capability development through work (OJT), this being more apparent among females with spouse. Since many females are engaged in work where neither the range and level of the work nor the work-related responsibility change, it is suggested that companies are not likely to give the opportunities of training (particularly when aimed at long-term human resource development). Moreover, it is also suggested that this is linked to the wage gap between men and women. (Chapter 7)

Policy Implications

  • Opportunities for vocational capability development (including OJT) are limited for non-regular employees. To increase such opportunities, one conceivable method might be to widen the range of jobs to core work in companies. At the same time, however, this is also affected by the desire and attitudes on the part of non-regular employees. Specific measures for improving employment management and career management toward non-regular employees by companies might include promoting sift to regular employment using career improvement versions of the Job- Card System; providing career counseling opportunities for non-regular employees; promoting balanced and equal treatment of non-regular and regular employees; and measures making it easier to use Grant for Career Formation Promotion and others for expanding the range of jobs of non-regular employees.
  • Opportunities for capability development are particularly few in small and medium enterprises. Here, consideration should also be given to schemes for intermediate support, by way of assisting the administrative processing and other work needed to make use of these policy support measures.
  • Since there are also quite a few non-regular employees who aim for career formation through the external labor market, it is also important to enhance opportunities for capability development outside companies. Among male non-regular employees, there is a tendency to use educational opportunities that involve a large financial burden, over a relatively long period, for self-development aimed at changing their work style. A conceivable idea for ensuring a certain level of expertise and skills might be to increase evaluation from companies by forming a core of practical learning in long-term training and in actual corporate sites. One way of doing this might be to create links with the use of higher education institutions, etc., and the acquisition of job qualifications. Vocational training systems that place smaller financial burdens on the individual also need to be designed.
  • Women have limited opportunities for capability development. The wage gap between men and women is seen to be strongly influenced not only by years of employment experience but also by disparity in opportunities for capability development (including OJT). Opportunities are particularly scarce for females with a spouse, and a deeply rooted gender role division is thought to lie behind this. Taking this present reality as a premise, equal opportunity measures that encourage capability development among women will need to be promoted, alongside measures to support a work-life balance.
  • As women tend to have limited opportunities for capability development within companies, it is important to create an environment in which self-development is easier to attain. Courses approved by Grant for Career Formation Promotion  should be revised from women’s perspectives, and steps taken to expand them into fields of greater interest to women. Meanwhile, a system of support for self-development by persons in employment who have only been enrolled in employment insurance for a short time or are not yet enrolled should be developed.


  1. Cover – Preface – Authors – Contents
  2. Introduction Background and Process of the Research and Survey Outline
  3. Chapter 1 Current Status of Working Styles and Vocational Capability Development (Overview of Survey Results)
  4. Chapter 2 Types of Initial Careers and Changes in Life Course
  5. Chapter 3 Summary of Vocational Careers and the Transition from Non-Regular to Regular Employment
  6. Chapter 4 Company Evaluation of Initial Employment Type upon Mid-Career Recruitment, and Study of Information Asymmetry Based on Propensity Variables of Job Retention
  7. Chapter 5 Current Status of Skills Development Among Non-Regular Employees: With Focus on Career Orientation and Work / Workplace Characteristics
  8. Chapter 6 Expanding Opportunities for Activity by Women and Motivation to Improve Skills
  9. Chapter 7 Women’s Wages and Vocational Capability Development
  10. Concluding Chapter Developing the Environment for Vocational Development and Career Formation
  11. Appendices (Basic aggregated data (persons in employment and persons not in employment) / Placement questionnaire (persons in employment) / Placement questionnaire (persons not in employment) / Interview questionnaire / Surveyor’s manual for interviews)

Research Categories

Project Research “Research on Vocational Capability Development System in Response to Economic and Social Changes”

Subtheme “Survey Research on directions for capability development measures”

Research Period



Research Director, The Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training (JILPT)
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Sociology, Rikkyo University
Assistant, College of Economics, Aoyama Gakuin University (formerly Research Assistant, JILPT)
Yoshihide SANO
Associate Professor, Faculty of Business Administration, Hosei University
Hiroki SATO
Professor, Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies, The University of Tokyo (Senior Research Fellow, JILPT)
Hiromi HARA
Associate Professor, Faculty of Human Sciences and Design, Japan Women’s University (formerly Vice Senior Researcher, JILPT)

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