An education ministry survey, whose results were released on Aug. 27, has found that of 559,000 young people who graduated from universities in April, 128,200 or 22.9 percent have no stable employment.

The numbers show that the employment situation for young people is very dire. The fact that such a large number of young people have no stable employment threatens the basic fabric of Japanese society. The government, the business community and universities need to take the situation serious and take all possible measures to change it for the better.

According to the survey, 335,200 graduates or 60 percent managed to find stable employment, including permanent positions. But 21,900 were only able to find fixed-term employment, 19,500 landed temporary jobs such as part-time jobs, and 86,600 neither found any employment nor went on to higher education.

Graduates in these three groups, numbering 128,200 altogether, have been classified as having no stable employment. It was further found that of the 86,600 who neither found jobs nor went on to higher education, 33,500 had no intention of looking for work or making preparation to continue their schooling. These university graduates should be regarded as NEETs (not in education, employment or training) in the strict sense of the word.

These days about 50 percent of high school students go to universities. As the number of university graduates has increased, university diplomas do not necessarily guarantee employment.

Universities need to offer academic instruction that helps students find jobs they will be interested in, increase their job-related motivation, improve critical thinking, and nurture their creativity.

Universities should also provide continued support in finding jobs for graduates who have failed to secure permanent work. Students should look beyond large companies to medium-size and smaller companies that may offer jobs they can devote themselves to.

Companies should also realize that employing more temporary workers will make it more difficult to hand down accumulated knowledge, skills and knowhow to future generations, thus weakening the businesses themselves.

From a long-term viewpoint, increasing the number of permanent employees is a logical move. Companies should increase employment not only for new graduates but also old graduates.

The government should encourage business projects that lead to an increase in employment and improve job training for young people looking for jobs.

If young people cannot find stable employment and cannot hope to get married and raise children, Japan’s depopulation will accelerate and weaken society. The government and business community should pay serious attention to this potential danger.

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