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Small and Medium Enterprise Agency New Study Groups on Flexible Working Styles to be Established

In response to the New Industrial Structure Vision, compiled in April 2016, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) decided to establish three new working groups on flexible working styles in Japan. The working groups will focus on second jobs, side jobs, and new working styles not bound by employment contracts, e.g., freelancing, and will ascertain current circumstances, obstructive factors and best practices surrounding such new, flexible working style.

1. Background and purpose

The New Industrial Structure Vision, compiled by the New Industrial Structure Committee in April 2016, revealed an analysis result that the fourth industrial revolution will dramatically change the current employment structure and relationship between companies and individual workers.

With the advances in population decline and technology, structures of industries, society and employment are seeing significant changes. In this trend, a variety of flexible working styles, such as working a second job or side job, and new working styles not bound by employment contracts, e.g., freelancing, are attracting public attention. Looking at the workplace, companies flexibly improving working environments are also attracting a variety of human resources, including women and elderly people. Moreover, those striving to improve productivity and flexibly introduce new working styles to overcome labor shortages are also attracting people’s attention.

These working styles are expected to enable workers to utilize their time and skills to the maximum extent possible and to encourage companies to ensure a variety of human resources.

These are also highly significant for Japan from the perspective of working style reform, a policy that the government of Japan has been discussing with full efforts. Aiming to ascertain current circumstances and challenges surrounding these working styles and to discuss future directions, METI will establish three new working groups of experts, focusing on three themes respectively as follows.

2. Outline of the working groups

METI will establish three new working groups respectively focusing on the following themes. In collaboration with each other, the working groups will collect case examples and research current environments, and discuss challenges and future directions concerning the themes.

Study Group [i]: Study on Creation of Startups and New Business through Second Jobs and Side Jobs

Division in charge: Startup and New Business Promotion Division, Small and Medium Enterprise Agency (SMEA) (Office for the Director for Human Resources Policy, Economic and Industrial Policy Bureau, METI)

Theme: Creation of Startups and New Business through Second Jobs and Side Jobs

Study Group [ii]: Study on Working Styles Not Bound by the Employment Relationship

Division in charge: Office for the Director for Human Resources Policy, Economic and Industrial Policy Bureau, METI

Theme: New Working Styles Not Bound by the Employment Relationship (Freelancing, Alliance, etc.)

Study Group [iii]: Study on Measures for Overcoming Labor Shortages in SMEs and Small Enterprises

Division in charge: Business Support Division, SMEA (Office for the Director for Human Resources Policy, Economic and Industrial Policy Bureau, METI)

Theme: Encouragement of SMEs to Overcome Labor Shortages

3. Future schedules and actions

Study Group [i]: Study on Creation of Startups and New Business through Second Jobs and Side Jobs

  • The first meeting is scheduled to be held on November 14 (Mon.), 2016. The study group will hold about four meetings by the end of FY2016 and will compile a report. The dates of the second and following meetings are not fixed yet.
  • The series of meetings and the report will be open to the public, in principle.

Study Group [ii]: Study on Working Styles Not Bound by the Employment Relationship

  • The first meeting is scheduled to be held by the end of November 2016. The study group will hold several meetings by the end of FY2016 and will compile a report.
  • The series of meetings and the report will be open to the public, in principle.

Study Group [iii]: Study on Measures for Overcoming Labor Shortages in SMEs and Small Enterprises

  • The first meeting is scheduled to be held on October 21 (Fri.), 2016. The study group will hold about five meetings by the end of FY2016 and will compile a report. The dates of the second and following meetings are not fixed yet.
  • The series of meetings will not be open to the public, but the report will be open to the public, in principle.

For further details, see the Japanese language news release.

Release date

October 20, 2016

Divisions in Charge

Information on the study group [i]
Startup and New Business Promotion Division, SMEA
Information on the study group [ii]
Office for the Director for Human Resources Policy, Economic and Industrial Policy Bureau, METI
Information on the study group [iii]
Business Support Division, SMEA
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry1-3-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8901, Japan Tel: +81-(0)3-3501-1511
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