Here
and
Now

kuchikomi

Some students too hard up to even show for job interviews

33 Comments

University students' unsuccessful efforts at landing a position at a company have been blamed on a variety of factors, ranging from their serious lack of motivation to clumsy communications skills. But Nikkan Gendai (June 28) thinks it has come up with yet another reason: poverty.

Two students at Hitotsubashi and Meiji Universities, named Suzuki and Miyazaki, gave the tabloid an earful.

"Quite a few of my classmates say they don't have to money to buy a suit for their interviews," says Suzuki. "It's so bad that an NPO has been set up to assist them, by lending them suits they can wear."

A survey of students' living conditions was conducted last year by the Japan Student Services Organization, an independent administrative institution. Currently, according to its findings, for the first time since the survey was taken, a slight majority (50.7%) of Japan's university students said they were receiving scholarships or other financial aid.

The main reason for this, of course, was their parents' inability to pay the full tuition. Another survey by the Japan Federation of Private University Teachers' and Employees' Unions found that among Tokyo families where the students commuted from home, average household income declined by 400,000 yen in 2012, to 8.6 million yen. And while some families in regional areas that sent their children to university were quite affluent, many others only earned 3 or 4 million yen per year.

In 1994, student allowances from home peaked at 124,900 yen per month. They have since declined by about 30%, to 89,500 yen. Deducting the average of 61,800 yen that students pay for their monthly rents, that leaves them with just 27,700 yen per month to cover other living costs, or an average of 920 yen per day.

Students supplement their allowances with part-time jobs, but their work schedules are often so demanding it wreaks havoc on job-hunting activities.

"A lot of them can't arrange to get away from their work, and by the time they make it for an interview at some companies, all the positions have already been snatched up," says Miyazaki of Meiji University, who adds that students at company interviews can usually make favorable impressions with prospective employers by relating their experiences performing some kind of volunteer activity. But unfortunately the poorer students once again find themselves at a disadvantage as they are typically too busy at their part-time jobs to spare time to perform work for free.

At least more companies these days are assisting students by providing a stipend for round-trip transportation to the interview.

But Hitotsubashi's Suzuki remarks that students from wealthier families who have participated in company intern programs -- without pay of course -- are also given an advantage over their poorer cousins, who again cannot afford to give away free labor.

"One female student I know was obliged to take out student loans of nearly 7 million yen, all of which went to bail out her parents after their business failed," says Miyazaki. "She supported herself and paid her school tuition from her job at a sex shop. Now she's out hunting for a job."

According to a recent survey by Recruit Career, the number of students who have secured jobs after their graduation in March 2014 was 39% as of May. It's probably approaching 50% now, which means that over the next several months, the other 50% will be running about frantically to land a position by the time they graduate. Along with cheering them on, Nikkan Gendai's writer says he feels like treating them to a bottle of Oronamin C, a pep tonic that salarymen customarily imbibe for a pick-me-up.

© Japan Today

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

33 Comments
Login to comment

C'mon, Japan! This is supposed to be the second (third?) largest economy in the world. Why aren't you investing more in your young people? They are the future of Japan, after all.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Give me a break...most students in most countries are in the same boat financially. Don,t have enough money to get to a job interview ? Get a part time job since being a Uni student is not that demanding here once you pass the entrance exams. Myself and most of my friends worked part time throughout our Uni lives..nothing unusual about it. J students have to do the same if parents can not provide enough for them....time to get off their butt and start being a bit self sufficient rather than leeching of parents...and to be fair a number of Uni students I know, do just that.

-4 ( +9 / -13 )

"The main reason for this, of course, was their parents’ inability to pay the full tuition. "

I would actually like to point out it's not necessarily the parents inability to pay the tuition, but the tuition itself. Don't forget, potential students have to put ridiculous "down payments" on a university once accepted, which they don't get back if they decide to go to another school. There's the ridiculous costs for taking tests, jacked up tuition in general, and then parents are expected to 'donate' to school programs. I don't know how hard it is for students to apply for loans and get there here, or other financial aid, but while this story saddens me, it does not surprise me. I'm glad an NGO is being set up to help, but it should already have been there, and the government needs to do more.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

average household income declined by 400,000 yen in 2012, to 8.6 million yen

Shesh hard up with 8.6 million yen? I would love to be paid that!

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

"...average household income declined by 400,000 yen in 2012, to 8.6 million yen. And while some families in regional areas that sent their children to university were quite affluent, many others only earned 3 or 4 million yen per year."

8.6 million yen still pretty good but 3 or 4 million is borderline to say the least.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

There is a major disparity in annual income between Tokyo and the regions, with income in the poorest prefecture, Okinawa, less than half that of Tokyo. On the other hand the cost of living there is far lower, particularly for buying a home. The main thing that the article did not mention is that over the past decade salary cuts and "restructuring," etc. of corporate employees have fallen the hardest on workers in their 40s and 50s, which is when most of them in the past were at their peak earning levels and could afford to put one or more children through university.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

As a someone form a country where the majority of students pay their way or get loans, I smirked while reading this. I smirk even more since I work with uni students and see how they waste their time and money. The parents of this country have spoiled their kids beyond common sense and this is what happens. Too poor to buy a suit? Aoki and Jusco sell cheap suits one could wear for an interview. Let's be honest, this isn't about having money troubles, this is about being lazy and self entitled. You can borrow a suit from a friend - but I guess without common sense one wouldn't think of that.

11 ( +16 / -6 )

tmarie have no idea why you were thumbed down. Borrow or buy one on the cheap makes perfect sense to me. This article smacks of the "poor me, I cant get a job" rubbish these self-entitled brats are spouting here. So you are poor? Too poor to do volunteer work? Go into the interview and tell them about what you have been doing and what you plan to do to overcome your poverty situation. THAT would be impressive. But maybe not the working in the sex shop bit, depending on who interviews you of course....

1 ( +6 / -5 )

I doubt if Nikkan Gendai is read by many university students. It's read by their parents and the parents of kids who will be entering university over the next several years. So I suppose the article, like many others that have been coming out recently, is to help commiserate with other fathers in the same boat. After paying out four years of university tuition, about one student in five won't have landed a job by the time he or she graduates. That's not the student's problem -- it's the entire family's problem.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Now I know the education system is flawed, but honestly, what a pathetic bunch of losers these kids are.

Honestly, if that is the way they think, they don't even deserve a job that requires them to wear a suit to an interview - cooking fries at McDonalds is the limit for them and their fancy degrees.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I assume these kids go to uni to eventually get a job? And in order to get a job they figure they're going to need a suit for the interview?

This is like those people in line at the grocery store who act surprised when the cashier tells them the total, as if they suddenly realize, "Oh yea! I've got to get some money to pay for this!"

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I wonder how much these students have been spending on overpriced anime sets, limited edition games, or other hobbies. If that is not the problem then it is also Japan's corporate model or even the fact that there are too little jobs and too many people looking for work. Only reason I've got work is because I had to go back to higher education for a 3rd time to get a specific skill set for a new career field that had jobs open and needed to be filled.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

They are weak if you ask me.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The suit issue is ridiculous. But it's true that you may have to pay fortunes to go to interviews, but that's more because transportation (and sometimes accommodation) fees can add up quickly. From Kansai, each interview in Kanto, that's 8000 yen minimum (taking the night bus, eating your bento) + the day of baito you don't work. And they can't make potential employers change the dates, the location (in case they have branches where you live). So, yes, students have to reduce their search to more local businesses, and these days, their chances are limited. If they are student in Tokyo, OK, In Kansai, that should be OK too, but not for all specialties. Those that are looking for a job while studying at some regional uni, far from everything, good luck. And if they wait till they graduate, and after that, they can move closer to employers, that will be too late as the recruitment season will be over, and first rank jobs all taken. Second rank jobs for recent graduates ? Well, I see most of them going back to take baitos or help family in inaka, as the reason is they are given sh... conditions (short term contracts, most hours unpaid, etc...) and they didn't make ends meet with that salary and cost of life in the city away from their family.

At least more companies these days are assisting students by providing a stipend for round-trip transportation to the interview.

All the contrary. I hear everyday that they pay less and less. In the 80's and 90's, the big companies wanted more graduates that the market could provide. They were inviting groups of 100 students from all Japan to some 2 day or longer recruitment event, and they'd pay every yen of it, from the student's doorstep, even giving them omiyage. Now, that's a rarity. Companies get candidates even if they don't make any effort.

Go into the interview and tell them about what you have been doing and what you plan to do to overcome your poverty situation. THAT would be impressive.

In real life ? A number of my students take some jobs... well, putting on the CV you were a "painter" , that doesn't make the interviewer say : "Waaa, you were getting up at 4 a.m. climbing on high building even in bad weather, a KKK work, ... and then after your shift, you'd go to classes... bravo ! ". No, they just say : "Wakatta." and whisper to their buddy : "That kid is a surely a burakumin.". You are aware that the ossans that do the interviews hate nothing more than poverty ? Either they are from the rich elite (think Abe, Aso...) and it's "Uh... misery, just the idea, that's so disgusting, don't tell me....", or they are from some fringe of middle-class that had financial hurdles in their youth, and now that they consider themselves as one rank under elite, and they really want to forgot the shameful episodes.

make favorable impressions with prospective employers by relating their experiences performing some kind of volunteer activity.

Yes, they prefer to hear about volunteer activities like participating at some golf or yachting competition, playing the cello at a gala, etc. And not that your were helping your family with Alzheimer granny, doing the rice paddy cleaning, etc.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I am seeing this at my job as I am in-house recruiter for a Japanese IT company. My company lets students that live far away to do the first interview over skype and if they pass, they move onto the final interview which we pay for the train fare, We still have half our group to fill but figure we will fill it up between this month (July) as the article states that only half the students have gotten job offers. Now that most of the big name companies have finished up their recruitment the remaining students will start to fall into place for the small to mid size companies. The only thing now is that the remaining half are not usually the best students.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Give me a break...most students in most countries are in the same boat financially. Don,t have enough money to get to a job interview ? Get a part time job since being a Uni student is not that demanding here once you pass the entrance exams. Myself and most of my friends worked part time throughout our Uni lives..nothing unusual about it. J students have to do the same if parents can not provide enough for them....time to get off their butt and start being a bit self sufficient rather than leeching of parents...and to be fair a number of Uni students I know, do just that.

Excellent comment!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

@Zichi

Good for you!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Cos - what you say may be true in certain companies and certain industries but it is a bit of a stereotype - not ALL places are like that, and some of them huge, famous J companies. A guy we know is tipped to be the next CEO in a couple of years time and he never even finished college but managed to get recruited into this company which is one of the "top tier" ones all the graduates want to go for. Snobbery exists, definitely, but not everywhere.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I'm interviewing for next year. One hire out of more than 20 interviews. The resumes are so exactly the same I can't remember one candidate from the other. How about they get some actual skills. Liberal arts background is important for democracy - a democratic country is only as good as its citizens (look at the US...) But I can only spend so much money to bring them up to speed. This generation of student is not forward looking or strategic at all in terms of skill development.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

That's so sad at having to deal with poverty at such an early age.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Cos - what you say may be true in certain companies and certain industries but it is a bit of a stereotype -

Yes, only 99% of cases. Like there are women that are sushi chef, pilot and sumo in Japan, you will find me one of each, I guess. Students (or their parents) are aware of it, if they are from a poor or "ethnic" background or just women, they know what to expect. They tend to choose different specialties where background counts less or differently.

he never even finished college but managed to get recruited into this company

The recruitment is reserved to those that graduate. Hopefully, their destiny is not over at 23. Some that failed in their young years get great success later, and there are some at each generation. But that doesn't help the student finishing his studies next March.

A guy we know is tipped to be the next CEO in a couple of years time

A guy I know, Carlos G. , well he's a nanbeijin, not event fluent in Japanese and he became CEO of a big J-Kaisha... (oh, I can't say he didn't finish college). So that means all the gaijins that come to Japan have the chances to land that position too ?

not ALL places are like that, and some of them huge, famous J companies.

Which ones ? Why don't they brag about it ? They have no affirmative action and such in this country. Actually when I first came to Japan that was even worse as the "ethnic" students were not even allowed to sit for the exams to enter uni, so that made it even easier for the big corp to avoid hiring them. The detective background checks were more common, and a number of my friends had parents that pretended to live together and delayed their divorce of a decade as otherwise, the children of divorced people had no chance to be recruited by Toyota, Sharp, JAL, Sony... (pre-history). That has changed a little. The big kaishas are no longer sekai ichi, even their survival is not sure, and making a whole career there is no longer assured. Also, now a number of businesses owned by people that are not mainstream nihonjin are getting important, like Softbank (but he did not start in Japan, precisely).

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Very difficult story to believe really. What is wrong with these kids? As others have already mentioned, they could swallow their pride and ask a friend for a loan of a suit. Not sure about other Japanese cities, but Tokyo has an insane amount of really great second stores in Shimo-Kitazawa, Koenji etc, where good suits could surely be picked up for a steal. And if things are really that bad wouldn`t it be better to turn up in a worn suit than not go at all?

I think the real source of the problem here is a sense of entitlement combined with laziness AND a lack of resourcefulness.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I think this article is exaggerating...

The situation describe about students that cannot get jobs because they are poor and are working part time so they don't have money or time to go to interviews is like the description of a Chilean university student who comes from a middle class home ans he is studying a very expensive career or a private university with high tuition fees.

But even so... these Chilean students work part time, get student loans, or scholarships, they do have the time to go to interviews, also, for about the 9000 yen mentioned earlier converted to Chilean currency you can get a decent suit, although the minimum wage is about 40000 a month, this 9000 is a great chunk from that, but the students here see those kind of things like an investment. So why can't Japanese see that too? everywhere you get the idea that when you are interviewed you do not have to say that you are poor or appeal to sympathy because your life was hard, big companies everywhere in the world don't like that with the exception of government companies and NGOs.

Either these young people are lazy or not clever enough to face the working world, in that case, they do not deserve to enter a top notch company...

My case is kinda rare, I studied all my university studies and even my Ph.D. with scholarships, I worked as a TA or a RA, so when I finished my undergrad studies I didn't start to look for a job after 3 months of graduation.... we were middle class but my parents had to pay my brother's college education in full, we didn't get allowances, but we were covered with housing and food so any extra money was for photocopies, school supplies and any other treat you wanted to (for example a music cd)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Silly. No get-up-and-go with these young people. I am sure they find enough money for their karaoke and renting their CDs and video games. Well, it speaks volumes for their problem solving skills and perhaps it's best for everybody hat they aren't in the workforce anyway.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

As a student in America I had to support myself with a full-time job, and needless to say, my study load was significantly heavier than anything a Japanese university student has to carry. And of course, university in America is substantially more expensive than in Japan.

I bought my first interview suit at a thrift shop for $10, and I also wore this suit to work for months.

Are the Japanese really this weak?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I bought my first interview suit at a thrift shop for $10, and I also wore this suit to work for months.

actually, i'm guess that they are too spoiled to wear a used suit. japan used to be a country that was so poor they recycled everything but has now gone the other direction where nobody wants anything used. they still save money though...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

My suit is a hand me down from my mom..but nobody would guess it!! I just arranged it around to fit me since I can sew a little bit. Even clothes for work; I just go for cheap but neat-looking; not so hard unless one is obsessed with brand names. There's nothing wrong with used things! I end up buying so many 2nd hand items from Japan because nobody wants them! Artbooks so good they could be sold off as new, manga and figurines.. half price and super condition, why would you trash them?!

About university, well student loans are going up whilst more students graduate and therefore less work possibilities...In my country most uni students still end up in high-school entry level jobs and have to work hard from there anyway. Quoting a lecturer "Stop thinking that you come to uni to find a job, you come to uni to enrich yourselves!" ....and that is supposed to get us money? What a joke.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"they don't have to ( the ) money to buy a suit for their interviews"

Pfft! You can buy a suit for under 20,000 yen at quite a few places. Give up buying video games for a little while.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Interviews are done while they are still students. They should go to interviews with their school uniform and a laptop to demonstrate their ability to work. Interviewers usually counldn;t care less of their suit.

1 ( +1 / -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