Sun 30 Oct, 2022 04:32 pm
In Japan is it rather unusual for a person to be employed beyond age 65 (the normal age of retirement here). I am most fortunate to be full-time employed at age 70 as an English teacher with the local Board of Education for a Japanese middle school.
My wife holds a rather high-rank position with the joint US-Japanese Forces. She was to have retired last year in June but was kept on an extra year to train her replacement.
She wants to continue working, preferably in the education field (she has a Japanese Government teacher's license). She was first an elementary school teacher in the local community, then a Japanese Culture and Language teacher in an American HS here (US military dependents), then an elementary school teacher (again, US military dependents). She moved up to the Civilian Personnel Office on the air base where she managed contracts for hiring, returements, and settled Japanese civilian grievances, etc. for local hire Okinawans. From there, she went on to become Chief of Civilian Guards on the air base for five years (sidearm shooting skills, and all that). From that position she moved up yet again to her current position as General Manager with the Defense Logistics Agency, Energy Division (really complicated job).
OK, that's the background. She is now 65 years old and she must retire by her next birthday. She applied for several positions, all involving teaching, or management of training programs, or education of some sort.
She has narrowed her choices to two.
One is Educational Programs Manager for a huge insitute of science and technology. She qualifies in all categories for that position, and they may make an exception for her age (they usually hire younger people but they are seriously making consideration for her qualifications, which no one applying for the position has yet met adequately -- she exceeds those requirements). The pay is excellent.
The other is a low-pay position as Programs Developer for Special-Needs Students with the local Baord of Education in the village next to ours. Beginning pay is about half that of the other job, and lower than mine (I have seniority since I have been teaching for 20 years).
The difference between the two positions is the working milieu. The institute has a rather snobby, super highly educated staff, mostly 2 or several PhDs on their walls, a cold, you-are-less-than-I environment, and she is just a highly-paid cog in their machine. They do important work (disease research, astrophysics, metallurgic chemistry, stuff I can't pronounce let alone describe). She wants to work there for the pay but she wants human interaction, not machine-like deskwork.
The Board of Education position pays far less, but is all-day human interaction. People there know and respet her qualifications. She works 50/50 classroom teaching, and programs development, for the elementary schools of a rather large village. When she went for her interview, they asked her if she could begin tomorrow...! Of course she can't just walk off her government job in a day or two, she she asked for a postponement until 1 January. Otherwise she will lose her last bonus (in December) which she gets twice yearly. They agreed to hold the position despite their real need to have a teacher in place immediately.
I will continue to teach under contract until I reach 76, then maybe extend. I receive a moderate pension from my 20 years retirement for the USAF. She will get a retirement pension equal to her pay with her school-teaching position, and we will still be about $500 less per month than we are making with the jobs we hold today. Part of the problem is that the Japanese Government slashed pay for government workers by about 40% several years ago. Since then, we have been struggling to keep up mortgage payments, and take care for a disabled family member.
So -- go with the job that gives better pay, yearly renewable contract ("If your performance is satisfactory"), and treatment like a piece of office equipment? Or lots of human interaction daily, job satisfaction, and a chance for promotion (and higher pay) after 2 or 3 years?
Surely that's her decision, isn't it?
Of course, but she asked if anyone who had experience in making such a decision might have some advice or insight.
At our age, I would prefer to take the more personally-satisfying job with the Board of Education. But in view of the past salary slashes by the Japanese Government, I am anxious about support for a family member, and maintaining the home payments too.
With the greater-paying job there is a degree of uncertainty about being hired again after a year. The Board of Education officials anticipate there may be a promotion and greater pay after 2 or 3 years, when a higher position may be vacated.
On the face of it, if I could make the budget work, I would take the position that offers respect and stability over time, instead of a fat paycheque in a lousy work environment with no certainty beyond a year. Because then what? Spend a miserable year and then look for work all over again at age 66? The job she really wants will be gone by then. I'd rather live modestly...but happily. I know that might sound easy to say, but I'm as serious as a heart attack. Stress can suck you dry, then kill you.
Best wishes to her and to you Seizan.
I'm interested in the outcome but have no relevant advice to give.
No conundrum. It seems clear that you would prefer staying at your current position. At 76, it would be hard to improve your situation in life, feeling like a piece of office equipment at a new job. All your details actually work against you in making a decision that most retiring golden-agers don't have to make.
My sense is you would be more dissatisfied as office equipment than made happy by a little more money. Following your heart is more satisfying than considering your wallet.
The OP was about my wife who is now 65 and readying for retirement, not me. I am now 70 and have 6 or 7 more years on my teaching contract. When I retire, if I don't find another teaching position, I plan to keep the karate dojo open all day long 5 days per week, and host international guest students at any time of the year (I can host them only during my summer breaks at this time). So I will be happy and occupied with teaching karate, and writing more of my book series.
My wife however wants to be active with some job in the education field.
At any rate, we must both stay employed to finish the mortgage payments so we can both take a respite when we are in our 80's.
My wife will take the teaching development position with the Board of Education. She decided to take terminal leave starting the end of next week, and begin her new job on the first workday after 1 January.
My wife has accepted the job of Special Programs Developer and Counselor for troubled and "difficult" students, and advising the regular teachers regarding how to handle them -- for the same Board of Education (BoE) as mine...! I work in one middle school (for 20 years), and she will work for the various elementary schools and the two middle schools in the same town (in which we live). She was offered the same position in the next town over (very close by) but the pay in our town is higher while the tasks are the same. So she will take the higher-paying position, and there may be a promotion to an adminstrative position with the BoE next school year (which begins in April for Japan).
Thanks everyone, for your comments and insights.