business

Keidanren's plan to rethink hiring rules causing waves in Japan

37 Comments

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© KYODO

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

37 Comments
Login to comment

Just start a business, why work for the man forever?

Agree, but caveat is to avoid any sector with heavy government involvement. Or maybe in Japan the reverse is true so long as you are buddies with the LDP.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Because of the geographical concentration of power in Japan, when change does come, it tends to be very abrupt

The Meiji restoration and conclusion of World War Two are the only stark examples I can think of in Japan when anything changed significantly.

And abrupt changes tend to be painful in the sense of short term disruption to people’s lives, even if things do work out for the better.

But big changes are welcome, to my mind.

Incremental changes give vested interest groups time to coalesce and resist necessary change. I think this has hurt Japan. The Abe administrations have had 5 years to do big labour market reform but all they tried to do was make changes that only effect highly paid workers in areas like the financial sector.

If this is what Japan’s centralized power structure is good for, then I’ll take the US or UK system any day.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

when change does come, it tends to be very abrupt and very comprehensive in a way that neither the US nor the UK can match. oh ok when was this last abrupt change your speaking about , since the burst of the bubble almost 30yrs ago I havent seen any abrupt changes that have help lift Japan out of decades of stagnation. "booming economy" is an oxymoron in Japan

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Just start a business, why work for the man forever?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Change. That most dreaded of words in japan. May the hilarity ensue.

Japan has changed enormously since I first came in 1971. When I was a graduate researcher at the University of Tokyo in the early 1970s, no one talked about looking for a job. Your supervisor would say, "I think the XYZ company would like someone like you." You would go to the XYZ company and you would be hired.

The current pattern came in toward the end of the 1990s, 1997 to be specific.

In the 1970s and well beyond, many young people went into work straight out of middle school and then later high school. There were not that many university graduates and even if their advisor did not get them placed, they found jobs quite easily.

Based on my experience in the US and the UK, I would say that Japan is easily the more dynamic society. Because of the geographical concentration of power in Japan, when change does come, it tends to be very abrupt and very comprehensive in a way that neither the US nor the UK can match.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

The hiring process is simply in the intersection of so many other failures of big businesses and the university system.

A. Most Japanese university students finish the required 120 credit hours in 3 years. Despite this, they still pay tuition for a 4th year, while doing minimal coursework while job-hunting and taking graduation trips.

SOLUTION: Spread out your coursework over 4 years, have a part-time job and a hobby, gain soft skills, that way your last year in college isn't a whirlwind.

B. Then, the average student applies to 50 or more companies, handwriting each resume (a time-consuming process). That means company HR offices have to go through thousands of CVs from their feeder schools.

SOLUTION: Students research companies, don't apply to every company you've ever heard of. Companies should absolutely allow a typed resume in 2018, and hire science grads for lab-work, business grads for accounting.

C. As 1/3 of new hires quit in one year, my well-informed hypothesis is that this stems from the amount of companies pressuring new employees to do unpaid overtime, and often mandating new-hires relocate sometimes within the first year.

SOLUTION: Companies pay your employees for their time worked. Stop cooking the books. If you hire an applicant for the Osaka office, don't relocate them in Fukuoka in 6 months.

D...E...F...G... Failure to adapt to 21st century global information grid and so on...

If the Keidanren doesn't revamp this system, sure some people might be uncomfortable for a few years, but failing to do so will put Japan even further behind the global curve than it already has become.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Japan have a better system than other developed countries, all of which is struggling with youth unemployment and non-existant worker wealth.

The Japanese system keeps the gap between rich and poor relatively low and society stable.

In the free market labor system like the US and UK, 1% will get 99% of the wages, and most workers can’t even plan for the next week because of job uncertainty.

Because there’s information asymmetry between employers and applicants, employers can constantly underbid for salary. A free market labor system will lower overall wages because it will increase applicang selection to employers, but applicants have limited time and resource to reach more employers.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

My goodness. So much to have a rant about here.

Shigeki Chiba, 20, a third-year student at Meiji University's Political Science and Economics School, wants to look for a job in media, but expressed concerns that changing recruitment practices and prompting earlier job searches would give younger college students less time to think carefully about their future.

Hey, this is just a reflection of the stale thinking that prevails at this time.

It's easy. Get a job now, don't worry about thinking "carefully" about the future. It's not like you'll know everything if you wait any arbitrary length of time.

So just get a job now. And change your job later, if you come to realize that you want to do something else, more.

This is how things should be. Getting a job is not like getting married and having kids. (Or, should not be.)

"If companies begin to contact students in their first or second year, their future could be (quickly) decided, and I think it is a waste to enter a big company and decide on an industry without giving it much thought," Chiba said.

No, no, no - while you are a student you should STUDY. Not worry about getting a job. Any company that wants to hire you, when you are still an unproven no-nothing in 1st year of school, is one that you ought want not to join. It's obviously doing it wrong.

She also believes unless Japanese culture changes, scrapping the guidelines would not be effective. "I'd like to be free after graduation to go abroad for instance, but I'm worried whether there is a company that would like to hire me after I did that."

Yeah, what company in their right mind would want to hire a young person who has actually been and seen the world?

Again - if companies won't offer you a job because you have seen the world, then those aren't companies that you want to join anyway.

What exactly are these young people expecting from their companies?

"If I were a high school student, I would fear that all my college holidays would be spent on job hunting," she added.

They didn't have the prevailing Japanese system of employment where I came from, and I sure didn't spend my college holidays job hunting.

Major Japanese corporations typically abide by nonbinding recruitment guidelines set in advance every year by the business body.

Getting rid of this crazy hierachical system is a great idea. Let each employer use its own brains and think about whether they want to hire workers who have actually completed their education, or want to have a race to just capture headcount.

Particularly in the United States, it is common for workers to move to new employers for career advancement

Such a novel, alien concept...

A third of new graduate hires also leave their companies within three years, further highlighting the system's failure to match young people with a job they desire.

Changing jobs is a normal, thing though.

Many university officials and students, meanwhile, are concerned that the proposed scrapping of the guidelines could lead to a drawn-out job hunt that would have an adverse effect on students' studies.

Wrong. Focus on your study.

If you do well at your studies, you will be able to find a decent job.

Simple as that.

"Small- and medium-sized firms hire employees after major companies.

So, don't. Hire when it suits you.

Decentralization, Japan! Decentralization! All the individual employers and would-be employees will find each other in good time! It works, yes, even without some stupid committee in the center of it all, telling everyone else how to conduct their business!

said an official in charge of recruitment at an infrastructure construction company in Tokyo. "But if we are put on a level playing field, students may not come."

Good! Shape up!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

"For businesses, the time and financial burden of recruitment would increase."

Again and again they employ this hoary old canard, this self-evident truth, to justify their inertia in defence of privileges that are way past their use by date. They get away with it because people have been conditioned to hearing it for so long that they accept it unquestioningly.

Rather than resisting long overdue change, they should be asking themselves what is it about virtually all Western societies that renders immunity from the operations of the ineluctable logic of one size fits all hiring. And then once that’s been isolated, trying to replicate it here.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

That pic speaks a thousand words

yes it reminds me of a borg regeneration alcove

5 ( +5 / -0 )

 The Borg awaits.

surrender to us , we will add your technological and biological distinctiveness to us, you will be assimilated, resistance is futile

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Once again, instead of fixing it for the better, they are looking at fixing it for the worse. Kids are already spending most of their third year, which should be spent studying, looking for jobs based on degrees they don't have yet, and now they want to make it so companies can start the process EARLIER? No wonder why Japanese university degrees are considered a joke to begin with.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Two forces bring about the possibility of change. A massive trauma or disaster of some kind OR mind blowing, life changing inspiration. The latter being much rarer. Trying to inspire the listless is the job of a magician.

"We never free a mind once it's reached a certain age. It's dangerous, the mind has trouble letting go." -Morpheus

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The problem is so obvious, yet culturally unacceptable. I'm guessing the culture card will be played and the problem ignored. Only a disaster might, might allow a slight change.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

This is exactly the right time for people to push for change. The headline number of jobs greatly exceeds the number of graduates. It means that greater competition for posts looking for talent will have to offer better conditions. Less talented will not suffer because there will still be demand for them. This is because the headline number of jobs greatly exceeds the number of graduates.

The move to talent-based recruitment also helps the less talented, because it gives them more time to study or find something they can do. A 30 year old with talents should be more attractive than a 22 year old with mere promise. Talented based recruitment also benefits those who want to take time out, to do things like having a baby.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Unlike in Western countries, Japanese companies generally don't hire workers with specific skills to perform particular work when needed, instead taking applications from students before they graduate and trying to select ones with the potential to do any sort of task that the company may require of them.

Sort of defeats the purpose of trying to get qualified in something that you have a passion for doesn’t it? There is nothing sadder than seeing the army of black suited clones bowing down to the machine in order to be let into the system. At the prime of their lives , it’s a hard ‘coming of age process’ to witness. The Borg awaits.

Please change these archaic, dehumanizing forced gestures of subservience and collectivist muck. Its way outdated, and kills potential. Here’s an idea. Harness the power of youth and creativity before it’s gone forever. Learn to lead, not rule.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

That pic speaks a thousand words

5 ( +5 / -0 )

and trying to select ones with the potential to do any sort of task that the company may require of them.

Thus, they study their entire younger years for the goal of becoming a "sarariman" and not an accountant, a graphic designer, an HR manager, a marketing planner, etc.

Where is the pride on that?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Why is 'indoctrination' mentioned in the article? The sad fact is, due to the declining workforce, any primate that can hold a pencil will get indoctrinated into a company and students know this. I teach in a university and have definitely noticed a change in attitudes towards education in the students over the last few years. They really don't care about learning anything because they know they will get a job. They don't care what they study either. They usually choose a course they think is easy and do as little as possible just to get a passing grade. At least 80% of students get indoctrinated into a company that has nothing to do with what they studied. For example, they will study something like child psychology and take a job as a sale clerk at a real estate agency. Of course, there are around 20% of students who are career orientated, but this number used to be much higher. I have often been told not to fail students and, I have also often been told to make easy tests for the lower level students. I have serious concerns for the future generation of Japan Inc. Japan will need to import foreign workers, but not just for the labor shortage. They will need educated foreigns to instruct these mullets and to run companies.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

But as companies face intensifying competition for young workers due to labor shortages 

Y’know what that means? The next guy joining my team will be worse.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Changing the system will lead to an outbreak of much-dreaded "confusion". How will students know what to do if everyone isn't doing exactly the same thing at exactly the same time wearing exactly the same clothes?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

In some western countries, powerful companies connected to govt made these changes. About 20 years ago I wrote a paper about NZ. At such a time, NZ was basically controlled by the Business Round Table and the right wing Conservative party of Jim Bolger. Sounds just like this scenario.

he introduces the Employment Contracts Bill. Workers had 6 months to sign a yearly contract with less pay and no company pensions.it destroyed the middle class and as most people have mortgages, heaped untold stress.

the next step was to allow massive immigration, Chinese, Koreans and Indians among others, used loopholes to enter. The rich Chinese and Koreans bought property, inflated the prides so ordinary NZers couldn’t afford housing. When the market peaked, they sold and left. Indians, Vietnamese etc stayed, earning low wages, but a lot for their home countries.

i can see the same thing happening here. Companies won’t have to pay bonuses, pension or health care.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I think the current system of hiring is actually not such a bad thing, but it could do with some tweaks to make it more flexible for applicants.

Surely companies can do both? Hire new university graduates at set dates like the old system and also hire them at later dates. This is kind of already happening in country areas with big companies desperately looking for workers to fill vacant positions all the time. Because they do not have the luxury of being in Tokyo or Osaka.

It just means that Human Resources departments will have to become more flexible with training. The beautiful aspect of the current system in Japan is that everybody gets trained at the same time.

But I really hope Japan does not move towards an intern style recruitment policy. It is the equivalent of slave labor.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

About time, CLEARLY, the old is NOT working & hasn't been for a while now, Japan is in DIRE need of a more flexible labour market where people can change companies & types of work when THEY feel the need.

Vast majority of companies no longer offer ""lifetime employment"" so change things. Cant be any worse than its gotten now!

7 ( +7 / -0 )

this hiring system works in almost every developed country, but some japanese people think it can't work here? give me a break. what's needed is year-round hiring, the ability to be promoted based on skill and not seniority, and hiring middle-aged workers to fill in any gaps that a company has. i could go on and on.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Corporate slavery or hire robots

6 ( +6 / -0 )

all new graduates should form a union for equal pay between men and women, and maximum 160 hours a month without overtime. See how that goes

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Goodness me, God forbid looking for a job outside of the set dates is way tooooooo much. The world is getting crazy next thing you know they all won't look the same. The whole system will collapse, it's a disaster. The end of Japan.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

A change to the US system would be the worst thing to happen to Japan.

The US system makes 99% of the popuplation stuck in unstable low paying jobs or no jobs at all. It’s just a system which is good for business but horrible for workers.

Japan have a 90%+ jobs rate for new grads now, under US system, would ne lucky to have that above 50% at graduation.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

"Students may be mentally and physically exhausted as they are likely to be consumed by job-hunting activities,"

as opposed to HS students and regular employees who may be mentally and physically exhausted as they are likely to be consumed by other activities..

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Unlike the 'many university officials and students...who are concerned that the proposed scrapping of the guidelines could lead to a drawn-out job hunt that would have an adverse effect on students' studies, I think it will make the students work harder to be the best at what they're studying. Unless, of course, its philosophy, then good luck to them.

And as far as 'once the guidelines are abolished, job-hunting activities will start earlier and students will have to think about finding a job at the same time of enrollment,' well, that's what they're supposed to be studying for, so let them concentrate on what they want to learn and what employer thinks that's of value.

Small business, contrary to its fear, will not suffer in attracting talented individuals; not all talented individuals want to be wearing suits and sitting in cubicles.

Contrary to the opinion of Kenji Uno, abolishing the guidelines will have a TON of merit for students AND companies. I can attest to that as a former small business owner.

His fear that "students may be mentally and physically exhausted as they are likely to be consumed by job-hunting activities,' is over the wall. Students will finish their studies and then pursue the employer(s) they feel will give them opportunity to excel. It's about time Japanese culture paid attention to the fact that not everyone wants to be a black-suited robot.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Future graduates will be able to set their own parameters and conditions. Flexible companies won't be able to fill positions otherwise.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The traditional hiring system of Japan is becoming a thing of the past. The system is already changing among young people. One purpose of the old system was to keep young and competent workers at the company with low salaries - superficially promising life time employment. In the old system, since all the companies in Japan basically took the the same system, there was very low job mobility and workers had no chance of changing their jobs resulting in workers engaging in jobs and companies they do not like. It is tragic for workers and companies too.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Change. That most dreaded of words in japan. May the hilarity ensue.

9 ( +14 / -5 )

Subtract a year off studies, and have a company internship of one year. No point in wasting so much time when the real training doesn't happen in school

This way even if the applicant leaves in a year or two they have some skills and can be better prepared for the life of Western work, which isn't that great

You were better off Japan with the current hiring system. Once gone, companies will become even more petty

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I don't understand why so many people think that the job hunting will be longer and more drawn out. There are fewer graduates coming through the system, so companies will be the ones waiting for these people to come to them. I hope that this will now allow young people to do and try other things after they graduate and then be able to come back and get a job. So many times in the past, I heard people say that if they didn't enter a company right after graduating, they would never be able to enter a good company, or get a good job. Hopefully that will finally end.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Regarding Kenji Uno's concluding remarks, I think if there is no change and things continue as they are, companies will continue to hire based on the applicant's college (Todai, Todai, Todai... or some other prestigious school) and moldability then there continue to be stress for both students and companies. Why is everyone shying away from hiring based on specific skills? Don't be afraid and go for it. Making this move will help change the education system, all for the better, methinks.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites