Industry internships a hit with teachers

by Masaaki Kameda

Staff Writer

A record number of school teachers will participate in a summer internship program offered by businesses, highlighting educators’ growing interest in gaining experience outside the classroom, according to figures released on Tuesday.

The number of teachers from elementary, junior high and senior high schools taking part in internships in July and August increased to 1,168, up from 1,070 last year, according to the Keizai Koho Center, the public relations arm of the Japan Business Federation, which organized the program.

“Education boards increasingly regard teacher internships at private companies as important,” said spokesman Yuta Kaneko. “They hope the experience at private firms will broaden teachers’ perspectives.”

The program offers teachers an internship at one of 105 businesses nationwide, for a period of one to three days between July 22 and Aug. 22. The experience is designed to furnish them with a general understanding of how businesses operate, as well as a greater awareness of issues related to staff training, the environment and corporate social responsibility, Kaneko said.

As part of the program, the Iyo Bank, based in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, plans to let teachers undergo the same training program it gives to new employees fresh out of school. The bank’s CSR activities and its performance evaluation system are also included in the program.

At seasoning-maker Kikkoman Corp., teachers will engage in soy-sauce making, and participate in lectures on food education and the company’s overseas operations.

Major general contractor Kajima Corp. will take teachers to its construction sites, while Chubu Electric Power Co. will give a tour of a thermal and a photovoltaic plant.

“We’d like teachers to pass on their experience at firms to students after they go back to schools,” Kaneko said. “At the same time, we hope teachers will utilize the experience in their management of schools.”

The center launched the internship program in 1983 with the help of member firms. It started with just one company offering an internship for five teachers.

Though the number of companies offering internships has increased to more than 100 over the years, Kaneko said the center is still keen to attract further participation from the business community.

“The number of firms offering internships stood at 105 this year, unchanged from last year,” Kaneko said. “We need to seek new companies who would provide internships while asking (the 105 firms) to continue to participate in the program in order to meet the growing number of teachers who would take part.”