According to recent media reports, only about two out of three college seniors graduating this March have jobs lined up. In the first of four articles in Sapio (Feb 9-16) under the combined headline, "Nihon no wakamono ga dondon baka ni natte iru" (Japan's young people are becoming dumber and dumber), education consultant and author Reiji Ishiwatari relates some horror stories from the job recruitment front.
In perhaps the most extreme example of unpreparedness, the personnel manager at a major manufacturing company relates how he saw an applicant shamelessly peel off his street clothes and change to a business suit in the office lobby. Another arrived so unprepared, he hadn't even filled out the entry form that participants were required to submit. After sitting on the lobby floor and scribbling one, he then requested the receptionist for paste to affix his photograph.
Despite four years of college, slogging through a daily newspaper is also a struggle. When a regional newspaper offered internship positions, it was flooded with applications. Twenty aspirants were selected.
Their first day on the job, the 20 were asked, "Have you been reading our newspaper?" About half raised their hands. But when asked which other newspapers they read, there were practically no replies.
"If you join a newspaper company, your salary comes from the readers of the publication," sighs a reporter. "Unfortunately, too many students fail to comprehend this."
The students gave such lame excuses as "Since the newspaper can be read online for free, it's stupid to pay for it" and "I don't know the right way to read it."
Another said, "Thinking it would help me land a job, I subscribed to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun. But it takes me a long time to get through it. I've got several weeks of back issues piled up still unread."
It seems he needed four hours just to read the morning edition. If aboard the shinkansen, that's analogous to reading all the way from Tokyo to Hiroshima.
The newspaperman explained to the student that reading every single word on every page, including the stock market quotations, would be equivalent to reading two entire books. Most people typically just skim the front page headlines and then, when time permits, they peruse the articles that interest them most.
"Oh, is it okay to just do that?" the student naively replied.
Meanwhile, the personnel manager at an electronics manufacturer bewailed the inability of many students to communicate with adults.
"Before the interview begins, if you ask a casual question to get the ball rolling, like, 'Was the train crowded?' they look terrified, and misunderstanding the reason for the question, they'll blurt out something like, 'The train was empty, and I spent the time looking at your company's ad for its new widgets' or just say something they've already rehearsed, like, 'I've admired your company for a long time.'"
Job recruiters in other fields relate their experiences.
At a venture business: "Being small, our company had only just began recruiting new female graduates. When one of the female students inquired about maternity leave, I said, 'Well up to now, no one has been eligible. Naturally when and if that happens, we'll abide by the law,' and she responded, 'Well doesn't that mean up to now, your company has been discriminating against women?'"
At a foodstuffs maker: "When we organized an informal group discussion session, one of the male students started crying. When we asked what happened, we were told that someone had disagreed with him. Just to get weepy over something like that..."
At a bank: "Their manners are poor. Students from the countryside bring along their suitcases or overnight bags with them to the interviews. You'd think they'd have the sense to stow them in a locker. Some of the boys scratch their heads during the interviews and spread flakes of dandruff all over their suits; the girls slouch with their legs apart or nervously preen their forelocks."
Considering the tight job market and shortage of good positions, Ishiwatari is sympathetic with the students to a degree. But he warns, "If dysfunctional students like these ever become a majority, then I suppose Japan will have no future."© Japan Today