Occasionally we get e-mails about how to get university teaching jobs over here in the land of the rising sun. These people have heard quite a few horror stories about the typical teaching that goes on in your average eikiaiwa and are seeking greener pasteurizers hoping that a university teaching job in Japan can provide them that.
To understand what happened on the university scene and its present condition one needs to see that the same basic deflationary forces that crushed fully-scaled eikaiwa industry like Nova, Geos etc. as well as the pushing the entire economy as a whole, banking system, land prices, stock and debt markets into a massive stall has also had its impact felt in the university system.
(It's just another ripple in a pond from the initial stone that got thrown into the lake. (Multiple rampant inflationary forces and excessive and rank corruption topped with unbridled speculation and avarice, leveraged with slack regulation and blatant cronyism).
Only this time the university teaching jobs ripple is simply felt at the university level in Japan just as it was initially felt in the lower ranks of private teaching in the crippled eikaiwa industry and the entire economy as a whole. To extend this analogy,
Many sites talk of "the good old days of university teaching" etc. Whining about the woeful state of university teaching jobs abound on the web. The painfully simple economic fact of the matter is that the stone that was cast into the lake and its effects doesn't feel remorse for who or what it effects. It can't be reasoned with or bargained with. It wipes out everything in its path and it just is.
We love charts. Especially pretty blue ones. When debt swells to this level relative to GDP something has to give. And give it has. Japan has been mired in a deflationary spiral for decades with no end in sight. Falling birth rate. Increasing competition from Asian neighbors. Impotent economic stimulus packages. ZERO interest rates on cash. Japanese hoarding gold and suspending purchases. The looming problem of a massive graying out of Japanese society. Want more charts? Ok. You win. Here you go... it's blue too!
The Japanese have the highest life expectancy of any major country. Women on average live to 87 and men to 80 (compared to 81 years for American women and 76 for American men). Source: nbcnew.com/.
Folks, that's a rather large pile of old folks drawing their pensions from an ever decreasing tax base coupled with a falling birthrate. In short, the perfect storm was born. No new babies to tax. It puts the squeeze on all parts of the economy and the university sector is not exempt from this storm.
Years ago, money was fat in this sector. ESL teachers got paid upwards of 60,000 yen per month for a slack schedule of 10 to 15 class hours per week. Summers off with pay. A few office hours. Housing allowances for nice sized apartments. And Tenure was more common, contract renewals were the norm. But just as the other areas of the education driven economy has caved in so has the once highly sought after holy grail of teaching jobs: the university.
Just like other areas of the economy, everything has contracted. These types of jobs are few and far between. Tenure is quite rare. Publications are necessary. A Masters degree in TEFL or similarly related fields are a must. Applicants with Phds are even common. Extensive teaching experience is standard. And you better know someone who knows someone else in a position of pull. Many of these jobs are not advertised but are filled by word of mouth.
Fast forward to today. The basic economic forces that are in play in the workforce has caused a supply and demand shift that favors radically the employer over the employee. As university scramble around trying to fill their schools they need less staff because they have less students. This results in a squeeze on the teacher. Making him or her simply replaceable.
Why offer tenure when you don't have to? Just can the teacher and hire on some fresh meat. Cut back on paid vacation and salary. Why? Because they can. There will be another taker waiting to submit his/her resume to fill the position. If you think they don't know this think again.
As the squeeze came political forces got pulled in. After all university teaching is a career. It's not contract work like putting a roof on a building right? After all, when the roof is done, you're done too.
So mandates got put in place in 2013 to offer university teachers some measure of protection and it kinda went something like this:
Faced with declining enrollment, a perfect storm and armed with a straight flush the universities played their hand. No more contract renewals after 5 years. Just cap it at 5 and be done with it.
Like rats on a sinking ship, cutting tenure and rolling back perks caught on quick. And why shouldn't it? All the pieces of the puzzle fell in place and it was after all the perfect storm. So the cushy jobs got crushed and expend-ability became transparent. Just like in most other areas of the Japanese economy.
Although there is no doubt that if you are qualified to line up some university teaching jobs you should get right on it. After all,
But the jobs are scarce and contract re-newel is no longer a sure thing and/ or is capped. Subsidized rent with large and spacious apartments is pretty much a thing of the past.
So job seekers simply have to play the hand they are dealt and line up gig after gig to keep the game going and that's what they do. If you can squeeze 3 years or better out of it then that gives you time to find another university to work for a bit down the road. So that is how the game gets played now. Mobility has become not only a factor but a necessity of survival in the perfect storm.
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