TOKYO, Feb 13 (News On Japan) - As Japan faces a critical shortfall of over 20,000 drivers, the bus industry has embarked on a novel initiative to address the issue: hire more women.
Statistics reveal that women constitute less than 2% of bus drivers, illustrating an extremely skewed gender ratio of "98:2". In an effort to shift this imbalance, a video campaign aimed at women has been launched on female-only train carriages in the capital region and Kansai, starting from February 12th.
Miki Fujimoto, a prominent figure in the campaign, questions, "Are you aware that 'bus driver' is a viable career option for women?"
A group of female bus drivers share their reasons for choosing this path, asserting, "Women can indeed become bus drivers!"
The campaign is spearheaded by an organization dedicated to revitalizing female recruitment in the sector.
Mie Nakajima, president of the Female Bus Drivers Association, states, "In areas where women have not been bus drivers for over a decade, the idea of a woman driving a bus might not even cross people's minds. We hope to encourage applications, aspiring for more women to consider a career as a bus driver."
On the day of filming, current drivers gathered to address the "2024 problem," a projected shortfall of over 20,000 drivers.
Fujimoto inquires, "Isn't driving a bus difficult for women?"
A female bus driver responds, "Not at all. The steering and gears are as light as those in a regular car. Being a woman does not put me at a disadvantage."
Nakajima notes, "In some countries, the gender ratio among bus drivers is 5:5, spanning ages 20 to 50. Changing the occupational structure is essential to resolving the driver shortage. We hope to spark interest."
Enhancing Female Recruitment...and the Necessary Environment
Expanding the number of female drivers requires adjustments on the part of employers. West Japan JR Bus, operating in Hokuriku and Kinki, has been visited for inspection. Although all drivers at this branch are currently male, efforts have been made to accommodate female drivers, including dedicated rest and shower rooms.
Nakajima questions whether women's opinions were considered in creating these female-only areas.
Akiyoshi Fujimoto, manager of West Japan JR Bus Kyoto branch, admits that while some feedback has been gathered, it may not cover all aspects.
Nakajima points out the absence of facilities for hair and makeup.
Reflecting on the feedback, Fujimoto acknowledges the importance of providing spaces where employees can comfortably prepare themselves.
Kazuki Horikoshi, a principal at West Japan JR Bus, believes that fostering a diverse workforce enhances recruitment competitiveness and contributes to service and safety improvements, ultimately benefiting customers.