Business / Corporate

Tight labor market in Japan forces companies to revamp recruitment

Kyodo

Major firms will begin hiring university graduates year-round, Keidanren said Monday, revamping Japan’s long-standing education-to-employment pathway in response to the changing labor market.

Keidanren, the country’s most powerful business lobby and also known as the Japan Business Federation, will no longer expect its members to adhere to the custom in which job offers are made to college seniors in October and they go to work the following April.

After consulting with universities, the lobby announced the policy in an interim report.

The decision to change the hiring system demonstrates the recruiting difficulties facing major Japanese companies. Nonmember companies such as technology startups and foreign companies can hire new employees throughout the year, including those who studied abroad and returned home in summer following their university commencements.

Keidanren Chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi told reporters after meeting with the universities that “diversity is very important,” adding that the lobby will “research a system to create various hiring practices.”

The panel was set up in January to discuss recruitment practices after the Keidanren chief himself raised questions last year about the federation setting new graduate hiring guidelines for its member firms.

The Japanese academic year starts in April. Many Keidanren members have followed the guidelines that allow them to hold job orientation sessions starting in March for college juniors and begin the process of interviewing and screening applicants in June.

But universities have expressed concerns that allowing recruitment activities throughout the year will make it hard for students to concentrate on their academic work.

The report said that the new practice must be introduced in an orderly manner and that companies and universities must ensure quality education is delivered.

Unlike in Western countries, Japanese companies generally don’t hire workers with specific skills to perform particular work when needed, instead taking applications from students before they graduate and trying to select ones with the potential to do any sort of task that the company may require of them.