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This week’s featured article

TOMOHIRO OSAKI, THE JAPAN TIMES

As part of efforts to give its younger workers an incentive to acquire skills that will benefit their future careers at the company, Sony Corp. said Friday it will allow its junior employees to study abroad for two years.

The stepped-up assistance for employees’ overseas study represents the centerpiece of the struggling electronics giant’s move to overhaul its personnel system for the first time in a decade.

The new system, which came into effect this month, will allow Sony employees interested in pursuing education abroad to realize their goal, and will include partial subsidies of up to ¥500,000 for study-related travel.

The initiative is technically available to all full-time employees, but it mainly targets junior staff, said Sony spokesman Haruka Kitagawa.

“We hope our employees will make the best use of what they learned while studying overseas once they come back to Japan — which I think will help invigorate the entire workforce,” Kitagawa said.

He also said the move, which essentially allows employees to balance work and education more effectively, will hopefully help participants to stay motivated, retain their loyalty to the company and raise their productivity.

To qualify, applicants need to convince the company that they would gain from studying overseas, such as in terms of skills or qualifications that would be useful in their future careers. They won’t be eligible if their study plan is deemed unrelated to their careers, or if their motive is solely for political or religious purposes.

The same assistance is available to employees who wish to return to study full-time in Japan.

To better motivate its younger ranks, starting this month the firm has also ditched its traditional seniority-based salary system, paving the way for more promotions based on individual competence rather than age or experience.

First published in The Japan Times on April 18.

Warm up

One minute chat about “My future career.”

Game

Collect words related to studying; e.g., “book,” “school,” etc.

New words

1) overhaul: to thoroughly examine and make necessary changes; e.g., “My company has started to overhaul its regulations.”

2) pursue: to chase after; e.g., “He chose to pursue his dream.”

3) subsidy: grant; e.g., “This project is supported by a subsidy.”

4) invigorate: to give power to; e.g., “Their words invigorated her.”

5) eligible: qualified; e.g., “You are not eligible for the discount.”

Guess the headline

S _ _ _ moves to allow young workers to study a_ _ _ _ _

Questions

1) What does Sony’s new personnel system offer to its employees?

2) What is the aim of this system?

3) What do applicants have to do to qualify?

Let’s discuss the article

1) If you had the chance, would you like to study abroad for your future career? What would motivate you to study abroad?

2) Do you think this new system will motivate employees and help retain their loyalty?

3) What kind of personnel system would you like to see introduced at your company?

Reference

会社勤めを始めると、同時に”学業”を行うことは容易いことではありません。 さらに海外留学となれば日本の会社での仕事と両立は出来ず、仕事を続けるか、辞めて留学をするかの選択を迫られることになります。学びに専念 することでキャリアを離れる期間に対して不安を覚える人も多い事でしょう。

会社の期待を託されその後のキャリアが保障されることは個人にとっても 学問に集中できるメリットとなり、その人材を再び迎える企業にとっても社員が自力で研修を積んで帰ってくるというのはメリットになると言えるでしょう。

しかし、より高い能力を身につけた後、より広い世界でキャリアを重ねたい という考えが浮かびえるということも想像されます。個人として留学するのか、 会社の一員として留学するのか、キャリアの捉え方がこの制度のカギを握りそうです。

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