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Honda taps buyouts for workers over 55 in shift to tech-savvy talent

Early retirement program expected to last beyond two years

Honda is adapting to an industry increasingly reliant on cutting-edge technologies and software. (Photo courtesy of the company)

TOKYO -- Honda Motor will offer early retirement packages for the next few years, looking to make room for younger engineers skilled in electric cars and software as the automobile industry transforms rapidly.

The incentive program debuts in April, targeting employees ages 55-63 during its first year. Eligibility in the program's second year and onward will cover those younger than 59.

As the next-generation fields of autonomous driving, electrification, connectivity and shared mobility come to dominate the market, automakers look for different skills and expertise. Priority often is placed on knowledge of cutting-edge technologies over accumulated experience.

The ranks of Honda's veteran employees swelled after the Japanese automaker raised the retirement age to 65 from 60 in 2017. Employees who take the early retirement incentive may receive support in their job search.

With the coronavirus pandemic depressing sales, Honda sees operating profit tumbling 34% to 420 billion yen ($4.02 billion) for the year ending in March. The buyout program is expected to help trim the payroll of older workers.

A similar early retirement system for Honda, which targeted those 45 and older, ended in 2011.

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