University students in Japan are having a hard time finding jobs these days. Those who have secured jobs for after their scheduled graduation next spring hit a record low of 57.6% as of Oct 1 amid an economic downturn.
But a new trend among Japanese firms to seek more aggressive and active people as employees may be giving greater chances to foreign students who are looking to get work experience in the country even in the increasingly competitive job market.
Rakuten, Japan’s biggest online shopping mall operator, is one of the leading examples of firms opening up to foreign students.
At the end of October, employees of the company from nine countries gave presentations on elements they see as necessary for a global company.
The American team listed flexibility and respecting individuality, while the Chinese team stressed the potential of the Chinese market. Others also gave presentations that reflected their unique views.
The Tokyo-based company, which expects foreign employees to eventually make up about half of its employees, began strengthening the employment of foreign students in fiscal 2009.
It has already promised jobs to 78 people originally from 17 countries outside of Japan, who make up about one-sixth of all employees-to-be from next spring.
Among them is Cristina Popescu, 26, who came to Japan six years ago from Romania. Popescu grew up seeing a series of collapses of its state-run firms after a democratization process began 21 years ago in the country.
‘‘I’ve seen reports in Europe that say Japan is not doing well, but Japanese firms have technology and are creditworthy,’’ the graduate student at Waseda University said.
‘‘I want to be involved in developing overseas markets once I enter the company and eventually start a business on my own to contribute to my homeland,’’ she said. ‘‘I would be grateful if I can tie up with Rakuten then too.’‘
Meanwhile, Cross Marketing Inc, an Internet research company based in Tokyo, started to join job fairs for foreign students in Japan from the end of June and eyes hiring staff in China as well.
Its move came as the company promised jobs to about a dozen university students in Japan this spring but saw more than half of them deciding to decline the offers by May after receiving job offers from other major firms.
Ami Funada, a member of the human resource development team at Cross Marketing, said even if there are open positions after people declined job offers, they ‘‘cannot hire university students who do not meet the standards’’ of the company.
She indicated the positive impression on foreign students, saying they ‘‘are hungry to learn what they want to learn and have clear visions’’ on what they want to do in the future.
According to a survey conducted by job information provider DISCO Inc in August, 11% of the firms polled said they have employed foreign students since April, the start of this fiscal year, and 21% said they plan to do so next fiscal year.
Rakuten’s Director Yoshiaki Onishi said, ‘‘Increasing the number of foreign employees is a natural move for a global company.’‘
‘‘Nationality or which schools they went to do not matter if they are good human resources,’’ he said, adding, ‘‘Japanese universities should take this seriously.’’
Picture credit: Moja / Wikimedia