Students feel heat of joblessness

Many soon-to-graduate university students have not yet found jobs. According to a survey by the education and labor ministries, as of Oct. 1, 2010, only 57.6 percent of university students scheduled to graduate this spring have secured jobs. The figure is a record low and below the figure of slightly above 60 percent prevailing around 2003, a period dubbed the job-hunting ice age.

The government should pay attention to the fact that the unemployment rate among youths aged 15 to 24 is high. In November, their unemployment rate was 8.7 percent — up 0.3 percentage point from a year before. There were some 140,000 youths in the age group who could not find jobs at the time of graduation. They accounted for about 30 percent of the unemployed in the age group.

In an attempt to increase employment among young people, the government will provide subsidies to companies that employ university graduates whose graduation date was up to three years earlier.

These days, students must spend a lot of time on job-seeking activities. Therefore, they don’t have enough time to consider what they actually want to do in the future, let alone study during their last year of university. Students usually begin looking for jobs in their third year.

If this condition becomes a fixture of Japanese student life, Japan’s higher education will collapse. In the long run, Japanese enterprises won’t be able to acquire recruits with enough knowledge and skills. The Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren), the nation’s most powerful business lobby, has decided to urge member firms to start holding explanatory sessions after Dec. 1 for third-year students, instead of in October. The decision may help change the situation for the better.

Students may not have sufficiently explored job opportunities at small-to-medium-size enterprises, many of which are looking for good recruits. Students should widen their scope. Those companies, for their part, should improve their public-relations efforts to attract students.