I am writing an essay in Japanese and want to talk about non-skilled labor, but found two different words for the opposite of a skilled laborer: 「未{み}-」and「不{ふ}-」+「熟{じゅく}練{れん}労{ろう}働{どう}者{しゃ}」. I was wondering what the difference in meaning/connotation/usage is between these two words (if there is such a difference), and in any case whether there is an obvious choice between them (based on how commonly used they are, etc.) or whether they are perfectly interchangeable.


I also found 「非{ひ}熟練労働者」, which appears to be a synonym of the latter, but might also be slightly different. This doesn't change the original question, it merely adds a third point of comparison.

2 Answers 2


You should use 非熟練労働者, when it comes to economics or so. If you use it in the sense of those who are not yet (but expected to be) skilled, you could use 未熟練. I haven't seen 不熟練.

Negative prefix 不 is used when something lacks value that's essential for what it is. e.g 不良 (shortage of quality), 不正 (irregularity). On the other hand, 非 can simply stand for the opposite nature of what's modified. In this regard, unskilled workers are not necessarily a failure for, or a would-be, skilled ones.


ABOUT 未 https://kotobank.jp/word/%E6%9C%AA%E7%86%9F%E7%B7%B4%E5%8A%B4%E5%83%8D%E8%80%85-138539 ABOUT 不 https://kotobank.jp/word/%E7%86%9F%E7%B7%B4%E5%8A%B4%E5%83%8D%E8%80%85%E3%83%BB%E4%B8%8D%E7%86%9F%E7%B7%B4%E5%8A%B4%E5%83%8D%E8%80%85-1549354 ABOUT 非 https://www.weblio.jp/content/%E9%9D%9E%E7%86%9F%E7%B7%B4%E5%8A%B4%E5%83%8D%E8%80%85

I asked my co-workers how they use these words and they looked at me like I was speaking another language. Usually no ones use this words. If you want to talk about someone who is unskilled, who has no experience you usually say mikeikensha 未経験者.

  • Unskilled as in non-skilled (blue collar) labor. Not "unskilled" as in 下手 Dec 8, 2017 at 3:33
  • Yup, I got it. It's a work-related thing.I wasn't talking about 下手 or 苦手.
    – Tsuki
    Dec 8, 2017 at 4:05

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