"I'm sure I'll find a work style that fits me." (STORY 1 Broadening the Range of Work Style Choice)
Ms. Shimizu works for the Casial housecleaning service developed as one part of the "iction!" project.
"The job content is housecleaning, and I'm happy because it's work that lets me apply my own careful standards as a homemaker," she says.
■ What Japan can do as its labor force becomes smaller
While the world as a whole faces the problem of an increasing population, Japan is looking at a shrinking labor force resulting from a low birthrate and aging population. The labor force is predicted to decrease from 65.87million in 2014 to 58.00 million in 2030. *1
Despite this, the labor force participation rate of Japanese women follows an M-shaped curve, dropping during the ages when they marry and have children and then rising again after their child-raising responsibilities become less demanding. We have focused on the 1.7 million women who feel they would like to work but have been unable to do so while raising children. *2 We believe we can build a society where it is easy for people to work even while they raise children by creating diverse types of work suited to individual lifestyles.
1 Extracted from the estimates for each prefecture based on the new nationwide statistics for fiscal 2015 labor force supply and demand from the Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training.
2 Statistics Bureau, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, 2012 Employment Status Survey.
■ Creating a world where it is easy to work while raising children
The Recruit Group started the "iction!" project in July 2015 with the aim of "Joining together in creating a world where it is easy to work while raising children" and began activities to address three issues identified in a survey: (1) not having to quit work because of pregnancy and childbirth, (2) reducing the stress of combining childcare and work, and (3) creating jobs that can be started without an excessive burden.
■ Enabling people to start working with assurance and at a reasonable pace
Women who quit working because of pregnancy and childbirth have diverse needs when they return to work. Some want to work only during the hours their children are in kindergarten. Others want to work near their home.
We have learned that many women are also uneasy because they have a "blank" as a result of having quit and having been away from the workplace for a time, and they are wondering whether they will be able to return to work smoothly. At Recruit Jobs we have been gathering the opinions of such women concerned about their ability to work, and we have been collaborating with many businesses to create jobs that women raising children can take with a sense of assurance̶providing options such as working for short hours at workplaces near the women's homes, being in workplaces where other homemakers have active roles, and keeping their income within the tax limit for dependent spouse status. Every week the local editions of our Townwork publication include a section featuring jobs where housewives and househusbands are welcome. We will continue to create the actions that give people opportunities to say "I want to work" in many ways.
■ Support for a return to the workplace, when anxiety is high
Even for women who do not quit their jobs, it can be unsettling to return to work after having given birth. We listened to the earnest thoughts of more than 100 working mothers who told us what they wished they had known at the time they had their own baby, and based on this we released the Kamuba! (Comeback!) application to help women navigate through the period from when they find out they are pregnant until they return to the workplace after giving birth. The planning and design for this was done in collaboration with Arrow Arrow, a nonprofit organization that provides support for the balancing of work and family responsibilities by employees at small and medium-sized companies. The application gives a lot of information that women, especially those who are working, want to know about childbirth and work-life balance, including the stories of mothers who have already gone through the experience and to-do lists that they can share with their partners. In the two months after its release in February 2016, the number of downloads reached 8,800.