Business / Corporate

New York University to launch new program bringing entrepreneurial skills and agility to Japan's changing workforce

by Cory Baird

Staff Writer

A new program from New York University, set to kick off in April, aims to offer practical classes targeting business professionals in a changing Japanese labor market that is seeing increasing numbers of young workers changing jobs — a phenomenon still uncommon in a system still defined by lifetime employment, a visiting NYU dean said Friday.

“The entrepreneurial skill sets are in huge demand and younger Japanese employees are not staying in jobs as long. Some companies are having trouble finding people with the right skills,” said Dennis Di Lorenzo, dean of NYU’s School of Professional Studies, in an interview.

Tokyo will be the university department’s first international branch, and will initially offer 13 Global Executive Certificates in English ranging from entrepreneurship to cybersecurity and hospitality service management, said Di Lorenzo.

Classes will be offered both online and at a facility in Shinagawa, Tokyo. NYU hopes to expand its range of courses to around 30, with classes offered in Japanese as well.

“I see a tolerance for change in Japanese companies, for training outside the company,” said Di Lorenzo.

“Years ago the idea of continuing education and professional education was off-limits in Japan. There was some hubris that there was no need or demand for this kind of education,” he added.

New data shows that while not all demographics are changing jobs at the same pace, around 30 percent of college graduates quit their jobs within three years, according to the Japan Institute for Labor Policy and Training, also known as JILPT.

“The nature of labor market is changing. The younger generations are switching jobs faster than the older generations,” said Noboru Ogino, a researcher at the JILPT.

Whether or not workers prefer increased job mobility in Japan remains to be seen, yet the trend will most likely be welcomed by international institutions such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and International Monetary Fund, which have long prodded Japan to adopt a more “flexible” labor market.

According to the OECD, Japan has the third highest tertiary education rate in the world, but the Ministry of Health Labor and Welfare has shown in its survey conducted in 2015 that once employees have entered into the workforce companies prefer to educate them in-house.

“Five years ago when we came to Tokyo, it was before Tokyo won the Olympic bid. After the approval there was a lot of talk with government and other industries about adapting business and workers to the changes but it seems many industries are still way behind,” said Di Lorenzo.