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Opinion

The hidden potential of Japan's older workers

Investment in experienced staff can revitalize industry in unexpected ways

| Japan
The advantage of person-to-person skills transfer is that over generations, we keep improving.   © Reuters

Imagine a manufacturing plant in the perfect world of the internet-of-things. All machines are programmed, connected and humming smoothly 24/7. Breakdowns are prevented by automated maintenance. Noise fills the plant but no workers are in sight, with the exception of a few in white lab coats in a central control room.

That picture may be accurate today for some consumer products, such as pharmaceuticals, but in reality few factories are so highly automated, particularly outside the consumer industries. One still sees technicians on the shop floor.

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