National | Regional voices: Chubu

Amid labor crunch, Japan firms seek to win over students' moms and dads

Chunichi Shimbun

Earlier this month, Copro-Engineered Co., a Nagoya-based firm specializing in the staffing of construction engineers, hosted a party at a Nagoya hotel for students who are expected to join the firm after graduating from university in spring — and their parents.

Seventy-six students in dark business suits and 88 parents attended the gathering, which opened with a video explaining the firm’s business, followed by a speech by its president, Kosuke Kiyokawa. It was the sixth time for the firm to organize such an event.

The students and parents were seated at the same table as the company officials who will become their supervisors, and they talked over a full-course meal.

The students were also asked to read a letter of gratitude to their parents, thanking them for bringing them up, just like at wedding parties. At the end, students went up on stage for a photo session, with many parents holding up their smartphones to take pictures.

In order to better communicate with prospective employees who will start working after graduating from university, an increasing number of companies are inviting their parents and not just students to such events.

As students have developed closer relationships with their parents compared with previous generations, giving mom and dad a bigger say in their children’s decision on which companies they join, companies want to be sure the parents are on board.

“Such events didn’t exist when I started working, but I felt relieved after coming here and having had the chance to talk with a branch manager who will become my son’s boss,” said Kazuhiro Matsumura, 48, who attended the party with his son, Koki, 22. “I think (the company) will help develop my son’s competencies.”

Ateam Inc., an IT firm in Nagoya, also invites families of prospective employees to hear a talk about the firm. The event had been organized for families of employees but was extended a few years ago to include families of would-be employees.

“We hope attendees will get a feel of the atmosphere of where we are working,” said the firm’s spokesperson.

According to a survey conducted on parents of college students and companies in December 2018 by Tokyo-based recruitment agency Neo Career Inc., 4.5 percent of companies said they also invite parents when they hold gatherings for students who will be working with them after graduation. The percentage nearly doubled from 2.3 percent in a similar survey conducted in February 2018.

The survey also asked parents how often they give advice to their children when they are looking for jobs, and some 40 percent said they give advice more than once a week, indicating that students are closely communicating with their parents while job hunting.

Neo Career President Kazuhito Hirahara pointed to the fact that since job openings continue to outnumber job seekers, putting students at an advantage, parents are increasingly pushing their children to choose big-name companies.

“This means it is becoming important for small and midsize firms that are little known among the parents’ generation to gain parents’ understanding when recruiting students,” Hirahara said.

“Because there are more companies and startups that are having difficulty hiring new graduates, such gatherings for parents are likely to increase.”

This section features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published Feb. 9.

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