OSAKA -- Panasonic will make eldercare a pillar of growth, planning to enlarge its related staff 10-fold to 20,000 by the end of fiscal 2018.
The Japanese electronics manufacturer will add workers mainly at subsidiary Panasonic Age-Free Services, which has about 2,000 now. Also, care facilities for such services as short stays and in-home care will be increased by 10-fold to 200. The company targets sales of 200 billion yen ($1.66 billion) from the operations in fiscal 2025 -- six times the current level.
Panasonic intends to hire 150 new college graduates for the business in fiscal 2015 and about 600 in fiscal 2018. It hopes to expand recruitment to high school and vocational school graduates as well as homemakers and retirees.
For midcareer recruits, the company will take on 250 as part-timers or contract workers in fiscal 2015 and 5,400 in fiscal 2018. They will be offered a chance to upgrade to regular full-time status in an effort to raise the employee retention rate.
A staff of 20,000 would give Panasonic the second-biggest in the industry, after Nichii Gakkan's 40,000.
Panasonic hopes to reap synergies with such other operations as home renovation, eldercare equipment and home appliances, both in sales growth and ideas for new offerings.
Eldercare in Japan faces severe labor shortages due to low pay and the hardships of the job. A major Japanese manufacturer strengthening the business may help improve working conditions and prompt other companies to follow suit.
Seniors in need of care, including those with dementia, are expected to increase 30% to 7 million in fiscal 2025, according to Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and other data. About 40% more care workers, or 2.5 million, will likely be needed then.