Keidanren (the Japan Business Federation) is moving to again shift the schedule of job-hunting for university students — to move the date for next year back by two months. In addition to increasing hiring competition and causing more chaos, making the date earlier will interrupt students’ academic studies all the more.
As changing jobs becomes more common amid less stable employment conditions, interrupting studies means that many students will have missed out on acquiring skills and knowledge they might need in the future. Most students in their fourth year are so busy looking for a job that they stop attending classes or studying anything other than prospective company information.
Traditionally the job-hunting season began on April 1. In 2013, however, the government requested that the date be pushed back so it would have less of an impact on students’ studies. In addition, students and companies also complained about the April 1 start date, saying that it didn’t give big corporations enough time to make their first choices and squeezed small and midsize companies into an even narrower time frame.
Keidanren responded by changing the date to Aug. 1 this year. But a considerable number of companies completely disregarded the Aug. 1 start date, putting firms that followed Keidanren’s guideline at a disadvantage. A survey by Recruit Career Co. found that 65.3 percent of university students had already received informal job offers as of Aug. 1.
As a result, Keidanren is now considering moving the official start date of the job-hunting season to June 1 for 2016.
The change in the starting date overlooks a better solution — not hiring any student until their studies are completed. In a survey by Mynavi Corp. in August, 79 percent of students reported that job-hunting activities had a negative impact on their studies. University students typically cram too many required classes into their third year to open up time for job-hunting in their fourth. Once students put all their energy into job-hunting, few return to studying even after receiving formal or informal job offers.
The result is that most students fail to complete a serious graduation thesis or do culminating work at the highest level. Hiring future workers who have not finalized their academic studies (though they get a diploma anyway) seems a serious misjudgment of the purposes and aims of universities. The recent revelations of falsified data in building construction, for example, suggest that students wanting to become engineers or construction managers could beneficially spend their final year taking a course in business ethics.
Universities have been lax in not protesting the intrusion of job-hunting into academic studies, but they should. Parents and students are typically too anxious to question the system. It is the intrusive, disruptive hiring practices of large Japanese companies, and to a lesser extent, mid- and small-sized ones, that need to be changed. Job-hunting in the middle of college studies continues to have a harmful effect on higher education.
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