Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Japanese university students take to the street demanding a better recruiting process

Do you know how university students in Japan find a job after their graduation? Actually, they start looking for a job long before they actually graduate from university. Students go to university for 4 years in Japan. As early as they are a junior (the 3rd grade), many of students start their activity in search for their permanent job - this activity is called "Shukatsu".

This job search activity or Shukatsu is a prolonged process that can take up to 1.5 years. Candidates must go through an IQ test and several interviews before they finally acquire a position. The competition is fierce for a limited number of openings in some popular corporations. Usually traditional big corporations are popular among prospective graduates.

An interesting tendency in Japanese companies is that they don’t really care what students have achieved in university. What the companies are more interested in these prospective graduates are which university they come from. The more prestigious university the candidate comes from, the better. They would hire a graduate from a prestigious university with GPA 2.0 rather than a graduate from a less known university with GPA 4.0.

A prolonged recruiting process coupled with indifference of companies toward students’ academic achievement leads to Japanese students’ typical thinking that studying in university is of no use. You might be so surprised to find how much students – especially those who study business related disciplines like economics, management, marketing and law - do not study on campus in Japan. Electing subjects they major is not considered important. Their sole purpose is to go to university and it does not matter what they study. Furthermore, you don’t need high marks to get a job. As a result, it is rational for them to study more than barely to pass final exams.

This mysterious attitude of Japanese corporations stems from their traditional belief that on-the-job training and company-held seminars are sufficient to turn these potentially intelligent but ignorant students into competent employees.Companies invest education in employees and their grateful employees work for one company for a period long enough to allow the educational investment to pay off. This is a beneficial cycle that brought a splendid success to the Japaneanse economy – until recently.

Now the cycle has rather become a vicious one. Japan has seen a still ongoing economic stagnation in the last 20 years. It is increasingly more difficult for university graduates to find a “good, stable and well-paid” job nowadays. The period for a job search becomes longer, while the chance to find it is slimmer. Some frustrated students finally decided to take to the street. Now they are organizing a demonstration demanding for a fairer and less-burdening recruiting process. One of them sent me an email asking me to promote this event to the public. The demonstration will take place in Tokyo on January 23rd. Joining this event might help you understand more about plight that Japanese students face today.

7 comments:

Andy M. said...

>This job search activity or Shukatsu is a prolonged process that can take up to 1.5 years.
1.5 years in 4 years of education! When I graduated from a university in Japan more than 20 years ago, it took about a few months.

> An interesting tendency in Japanese companies is that they don’t really care what students have achieved in university. What the companies are more interested in these prospective graduates are which university they come from.
I know well about it. It doesn’t really make sense. The companies should look at what they learned, their GPAs, their demonstrated skills and how academically competitive their schools’ programs are.
I guess Japanese hiring managers need IQ tests. ;-)

> A prolonged recruiting process coupled with indifference of companies toward students’ academic achievement leads to Japanese students’ typical thinking that studying in university is of no use.
That makes some of them to think that schools are nothing more than amusement parks and diploma mills. They are too pricy for that.

>This mysterious attitude of Japanese corporations stems from their traditional belief that on-the-job training and company-held seminars are sufficient to turn these potentially intelligent but ignorant students into competent employees.

Judging from the performance of Japan inc., it doesn’t work anymore.
It’s time to outsource their hiring processes to American firms.

>It is increasingly more difficult for university graduates to find a “good, stable and well-paid” job nowadays. The period for a job search becomes longer, while the chance to find it is slimmer.

Why don’t they study English and their major really hard and find a job with foreign companies in Japan? That was what I did. I don’t want to name a name, but I had an uncomfortable experience in interviewing with a Japanese company (now I cannot believe I ever tried to work for them).
The inflexible hiring process in Japan puts job seekers in a dire situation especially when they graduated in the middle of a recession. Japanese businesses should hire people who are most qualified for the position regardless of their age not the obedient masses with nice diplomas.
If Japanese companies hire people based on their merits and also are allowed to let non performing workers go, people who are talented and people who study hard will get better chances in the job market.

Andy M.

Ei "Ray" Murakami said...

What I cannot understand is why they are still seeking job opportunities for major famous companies who practising recruiting practice they despise of?

There would be many small and even large companies unsung but directly competing in global market as mostly components and/or material providers for special purposes.

They would be seeking various kind of skills in real terms and have huge potential to grow. They only lack flashy TV advertisements to put their names into ears of general public.

To be honest, I know, it would be unpleasant if you mention the name of the company you are working for and nobody recognises it.

Andy M. said...

>What I cannot understand is why they are still seeking job opportunities for major famous companies who practising recruiting practice they despise of?

Good point. Young people hate risk aversive companies and yet they love to work for them. I guess they themselves are indeed risk aversive. Risk aversive people are not necessarily good at risk management. Actually the opposite may be true. If you try to avoid risks at any cost, you may end up with inviting the very risks that you try to avoid. For example, to avoid losing at any cost is a surest way to fail to win.
I started to notice that the lack of language and risk management skills has been a persisting problem for many Japanese groups in any place.
I think that Japanese people in Japan have the toughest problem since nothing can dull your survival instincts as much as living in a country as a member of a super majority group.

Andy M.

Ei "Ray" Murakami said...

If a company find a university student fit for a position in the organisation long before graduation, it should hire the student outright. If it would like to wait for the student to finish his/her study it should give him/her scholarship. If the university accommodates flexible learning it should allow the student to spare working hours for study.

The only reason why these practices would be odd in Japan is that the studies in most of Japanese universities are meaningless and just for namesake.

Andy M. said...

Hello Ray,
>The only reason why these practices would be odd in Japan is that the studies in most of Japanese universities are meaningless and just for namesake.

You hit the nail right on. The root of the problem is that most of Japanese universities don’t teach students things that are important to survive and thrive in today’s global competitions. If most of the college graduates don’t have the skills to compete in today’s market, businesses will find new employees based on what school they graduated from, how obedient they are, etc. The situation will continue till most Japanese companies can no longer afford to employ many full time Japanese employees (I guess that is already happening).

Andy M.

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Generic Viagra said...

and this problem is not only in Japan, it's in all world, student end them studies and what find? nothing, all the companies demand certain experience grade.