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Chronic unemployment and my anger/resentment and its effect on my children

PatPaul

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Hello Everyone:

I am a 58-year old male, married with two young children. I have been unemployed for quite some time now. I want to work since I feel our family needs the $ for our kids's post-secondary costs, which will come due 6-8 years from now, and to try to sock away a little for retirement. My wife wants me to consider myself retired. I am very angry, bitter, and resentful towards the other foreigners in my area, who are less educated and qualified than me, and have jobs. I worry that my anger and resentment is having a negative impact on m kids, as well as the fact I am not exactly an ideal role model not working, and they might come to hate me in the future when they find out their parents cannot support them financially for university, and that I had not been working.

PatPaul
 

Buntaro

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Move to the countryside where there are jobs? Or commute weekly to such a job? Teach online? Start your own juku or just hustle your own English students in your area? Meet students at McDonald's if you have to.

And, if I may ask, is there a particular reason for your unemployment besides age discrimination?
 
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thomas

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Very sorry about your plight. I can well imagine that it must be quite a strain on you and your family. If you don't mind my asking:
  • What field have you worked in before?
  • And what steps have you taken to find employment in that or other fields?
  • And instead of harbouring ill-will or anger against those foreigners in your area, have you tried approaching them? I have always found peer networking to be quite efficient.
 

PatPaul

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Hi,
Before I came to Japan in 1991 I did a wide range of jobs from waiter to bike courier...I applied for a wedding celebrant job but I need a car and don't have a driver's license. Took the test 8 years ago; passed the written and failed the road. No other job prospects here. Have visited Hello Work, the prefecture labour office...I have talked to the aforementioned foreigners and they have not been able to help. Member of JALT for a year, did nothing. Cannot move from the small city we live in to the countryside. since we own a home, wife's job...
 

Buntaro

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Do you consider yourself qualified to teach English?
 

thomas

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That was my next question, too. Are there any language schools in your town?
 

bentenmusume

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What sort of jobs do the other foreigners who are "less qualified" and "less educated" than you have? Age discrimination is definitely a thing in Japan, and I feel bad for you if that's been negatively influencing your employment prospects, but if you have a skill or knowledge that no one else has, it strikes me that you should be able to find work.

I don't say this to rub salt in the wound, but if you can't speak much Japanese (I'm just extrapolating from your other thread about grocery bags; forgive me if I'm being presumptuous) this would also naturally count against you. Even if you are able to find a job teaching English (which I agree with the others is probably the most readily available job you'd be qualified for), I would highly suggest that you work on your Japanese language skills. Being able to communicate is always going to work in your favor when it comes to making contacts and convincing people to hire you. I don't mean to suggest it'll be easy to go from your current level to fluent at your age (again, sorry, not trying to be rude, just speaking objectively about language learning), but it's never too late to learn, and I think that being able to communicate independently would also do a lot for your self-esteem.

I'd also encourage you to pursue any other interests/hobbies you have and consider if there's any way you could (either on your own or together with friends/family) turn them into a business. It strikes me that in addition to the money issue, you're struggling with a bit of an identity/self-esteem crisis, and I have a feeling it'd be good for you to explore your interests and think about what you can do to make a meaningful contribution to the community or world around you.
 

Majestic

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Be single-minded in your objectives. If you want to try being a celebrant and you need a driver's license, continue taking the driving test until you pass, or sign up for driving school where they virtually guarantee you will pass the practical test. "I tried 8 years ago but failed", isn't a valid reason for not having one today. "I try every month and keep failing" would be a problem, but to me it sounds like being adamant about studying and passing the driving test would be one way to get on your feet. Its one way to show yourself and your family that you are determined to turn things around. But yes, the tests can be very intimidating and the Japanese driving tests tend to be more strict than in the west.
Teaching on-line might be another option if you don't like the above advice. It wouldn't be a huge money-maker, but if you decide you want to work, say, a few hours each day just to make money for your kids' education, it too would be a good way to get out of your rut. Research the options, find out what the online schools are looking for, and prepare for that.
And of course, one of the best things you can do to help with job prospects is to speak Japanese. So if you have not yet taken JLPT 5-1, that would be another goal to set for yourself. For example, start by being determined to pass JLPT 5 (assuming you already haven't), and study for an hour or two a day until you can pass that test. I think its given twice a year. It could also be a way to build communication with your wife and kids. I'm sure they would be happy to help if you are serious about studying. (If not, you can always ask for help here). Look at this as a long-term project with long-term benefits. For example, look at either of these as a six month project, and make a goal of passing, say, the drivers test or the JLPT5 test by March of next year (or whenever they hold the test). Worry about the job after that, but be confident that what you are doing will help you get a job.
 

Buntaro

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Member of JALT for a year, did nothing.
Pat,

I have another question for you. Do you think you would enjoy teaching English? Teaching English is not for everyone. If you don't enjoy teaching English, your students will pick up on it and it won't go well for you.
 
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PatPaul

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Hello Everyone,

Thanks for your helpful replies. It is very much appreciated. I will try not to sound like a “Debbie Downer” as I reply to you good suggestions.

Move to the countryside where there are jobs? Or commute weekly to such a job? Teach online? Start your own juku or just hustle your own English students in your area? Meet students at McDonald's if you have to.

And, if I may ask, is there a particular reason for your unemployment besides age discrimination?

My family and I don’t live in the countryside, but in a city with a population of about 400,000, which relatively speaking, could be considered the boonies to those living in Tokyo. I have applied to online teaching jobs, and sought out students here, but most of the students are kids. I have nothing against kids; have two young ones myself, aged 10 and 12, it’s just that I went back to North America to get the requisite qualifications to teach at the university level, and feel that is where I am best suited. I have put up a sign at the local international center on several occassions, but it never generated any lessons...Apart from my age, the only thing I can think of is my Japanese is not great, not fluent enough to do the kind of job I had a few years back here, where I was asked to do all the administrative stuff in Japanese, and had a mental meltdown and had to quit. I have no ill will against that employer. I just told them they should hire native Japanese speakers to teach English, since I don’t have that language proficiency. I taught at the university level in the Middle East and South Korea, and from my experience, most of the foreign EFL teachers had little or no knowledge of Arabic or Korean; myself included. Again, I want to emphasize, that with respect to Japan, it’s THEIR country, and they can do what they want, hire whom they want...So living in this small community, maybe my mental breakdown got around to other employers?

And instead of harbouring ill-will or anger against those foreigners in your area, have you tried approaching them? I have always found peer networking to be quite efficient.

I did join JALT a few years ago,but it did not open up any doors for me. I suppose I felt so discouraged and disillusioned about the hiring process here, I felt that writing and publishing the “three pieces of work that is usually required from universities” would not make a difference…

Do you consider yourself qualified to teach English?

Yes, I have a master’s degree in TEFL and did it on-campus. I mention this fact since some of the places I taught in the Middle East were starting to avoid teaching applicants who did graduate degrees online since there was no teaching practicum, like I did. I also went to the USA to get an elementary teaching degree and a CELTA in Vancouver.

hat was my next question, too. Are there any language schools in your town?

Yes, there are. When I went to HelloWork and the local labour office here, they could only suggest Interac. I did begin the application process, but later contacted them to bow out, since their hiring age limit is 60 (I’m turning 59 in January), and I don’t have a driving license. They were very cool about it.

What sort of jobs do the other foreigners who are "less qualified" and "less educated" than you have?

Well those foreigners who are teaching at the local universities here who have only a bachelors degree, and usually in an unrelated field to TEFL. Or,if they do have any graduate education, it is in something like geography….

I don't say this to rub salt in the wound, but if you can't speak much Japanese (I'm just extrapolating from your other thread about grocery bags; forgive me if I'm being presumptuous) this would also naturally count against you.

My Japanese is OK, probably a lower-intermediate level. I have never taken the JLPT, but I reckon if I did, I think I could pass N4. But the difference between an N4 and what I was expected to do at my last job in Japan is vast. I usually tell people that for my wife or, say another Japanese teacher at that college, they could read a memo written in Japanese in a minute, whereas for me, it would take a few hours with a dictionary, and I would still not be sure if I had it right. Again, I want to emphasize, there are many foreigners here in Japan who are very proficient in Japanese, but despite they years of self-study and language classes, I am not in that league.

I don't mean to suggest it'll be easy to go from your current level to fluent at your age (again, sorry, not trying to be rude, just speaking objectively about language learning), but it's never too late to learn, and I think that being able to communicate independently would also do a lot for your self-esteem.

No offence taken, and I agree that it’s getting harder for me to learn as I get older. Regarding the idea to volunteer or do something, 3 years ago I tried to start a local chapter of Amnesty International, and a local chapter of the Environmental group, 350.org, but after a couple of months of going solo and no interest expressed from the Japanese or foreign community, I gave up. Thomas (the Admnistrator) can attest to the effort I made on this forum a while back to raise awareness about climate change, and I tried a 2nd attepmpt here in my town, by visiting the universities, colleges, international center, JICA, a local environmental NPO, and visited the international affairs division at the KENCHO to bounce-off the idea to them of me visiting high schools to talk about climate change. Like the international center, the education system here was not interested in what I had to say, so I gave up.

If you want to try being a celebrant and you need a driver's license, continue taking the driving test until you pass, or sign up for driving school where they virtually guarantee you will pass the practical test.

Yes, I agree I should try again. I did have a BC license from Canada, but while my wife and I were in the Middle East, ever vacation would be back to Japan, thus I was not able to renew it. I did call a driving school yesterday and was told I could complete a 6-week course with 2-3 hours of class/day for about 230,000. The only reason I would do this, since I have been able to get around town for other teaching jobs, is one wedding celebrant company I applied to said they would not allow me to ride my bike to the site, but would need to come by car.


i have another question for you. Do you think you would enjoy teaching English? Teaching English is not for everyone. If you don't enjoy teaching English, your students will pick up on it and it won't go well for you.

Yes, I do.
 

Buntaro

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Pat,

Let’s take this one step at a time. Let’s talk about the driver’s license. How about this: Go to Vancouver or wherever, get a driver’s license, get it converted to an international license, bring it to Japan, and get it converted to a Japanese license. Also, many years ago, I brought my USA driver’s license to Japan and they automatically converted it to a Japanese license, Piece of cake. (I don't know if they still do this in Japan.)

You might have to make two trips, once to apply for the Vancouver license, then go back later to pick it up. In America, they only give you a short-term driver’s license and mail the regular credit-card looking driver’s license to your mailing address. So you might have to go back and pick it up. Another thing is that you would need a local mailing address. Do you have relative in Vancouver or wherever who can receive mail for you? They could mail it to you too, removing the need for your second trip.
 
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Majestic

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I don't think they automatically convert licenses anymore (but I could be wrong about this).
One other thing I will add; doing things like going to driver's license schools, or working for a company you know you may have to leave soon due to retirement age (or whatever) is the simple act of getting out of the house and networking. A city of 400k people is a big city compared to where I'm from and it is full of people who might need something you have to offer, but you won't know unless you go out there and seek it. I'm thinking of all the conversations you are potentially missing by self-selecting out of the workforce due to one reason or another. Rather than say, "I'm almost 59 and the retirement age at the company is 60, so I bowed out", why not instead say, "I have over a year to meet new people and make acquaintances and make myself known as a competent English teacher". This way, after your year is finished you have not only a year of wages and whatnot, but you have a year of contacts that you may be able to use to your advantage. You have control (or agency, as the kids these days like to say) over your life, but you need to use this control. Talk with your wife about the cost of the driving school - this is something I'm sure she would support if you really want to do this in order to contribute to the family. It would be part of your plan, and involving her in the decision would make her happy. Maybe she doesn't approve of the expense, but maybe she will see you are serious about changing your situation. A driver's license isn't just a means to being a celebrant, it would also allow you to be less dependent on your wife, and it will allow you to take care of her should anything happen to her.
 

PatPaul

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Pat,

Let’s take this one step at a time. Let’s talk about the driver’s license. How about this: Go to Vancouver or wherever, get a driver’s license, get it converted to an international license, bring it to Japan, and get it converted to a Japanese license. Also, many years ago, I brought my USA driver’s license to Japan and they automatically converted it to a Japanese license, Piece of cake. (I don't know if they still do this in Japan.)

You might have to make two trips, once to apply for the Vancouver license, then go back later to pick it up. In America, they only give you a short-term driver’s license and mail the regular credit-card looking driver’s license to your mailing address. So you might have to go back and pick it up. Another thing is that you would need a local mailing address. Do you have relative in Vancouver or wherever who can receive mail for you? They could mail it to you too, removing the need for your second trip.
Hi,
Thanks for the message. Since my Canadian (BC) license expired, I would need to go back to BC or any other province, do the eye/written test at a Motor Vehicle License Center, and then wait a year and return to do the road test.
 

PatPaul

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I don't think they automatically convert licenses anymore (but I could be wrong about this).
One other thing I will add; doing things like going to driver's license schools, or working for a company you know you may have to leave soon due to retirement age (or whatever) is the simple act of getting out of the house and networking. A city of 400k people is a big city compared to where I'm from and it is full of people who might need something you have to offer, but you won't know unless you go out there and seek it. I'm thinking of all the conversations you are potentially missing by self-selecting out of the workforce due to one reason or another. Rather than say, "I'm almost 59 and the retirement age at the company is 60, so I bowed out", why not instead say, "I have over a year to meet new people and make acquaintances and make myself known as a competent English teacher". This way, after your year is finished you have not only a year of wages and whatnot, but you have a year of contacts that you may be able to use to your advantage. You have control (or agency, as the kids these days like to say) over your life, but you need to use this control. Talk with your wife about the cost of the driving school - this is something I'm sure she would support if you really want to do this in order to contribute to the family. It would be part of your plan, and involving her in the decision would make her happy. Maybe she doesn't approve of the expense, but maybe she will see you are serious about changing your situation. A driver's license isn't just a means to being a celebrant, it would also allow you to be less dependent on your wife, and it will allow you to take care of her should anything happen to her.
Thanks for the good advice. You framed things in a more positive light for me. Much appreciated.
 

Buntaro

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wait a year and return to do the road test.
Wait a year! Gadzooks!

The next question, then, is how about that 6-week, 2-3 hours-a-day class for 230,000 yen? Is that something you have already given up on?
 

jt9258

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Hi,
Thanks for the message. Since my Canadian (BC) license expired, I would need to go back to BC or any other province, do the eye/written test at a Motor Vehicle License Center, and then wait a year and return to do the road test.
Did your Canadian Driving license expire while you were living in Japan?
 

PatPaul

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No, while I was living in the Middle East
 
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