With jobs getting harder to find, it’s important that more people have the chance to be hired.

Japan has a number of unique business practices, but one of the most controversial, even within Japan, is the practice of reserving specific job openings for new college graduates. While this is a great idea in theory, as it increases the chances for students just coming out of college and entering the work force to get jobs, it disenfranchises many other workers because it limits who can apply for entry-level positions, since the “shinsotsu” or “new graduate” condition is limited to students who are just about to graduate (most university students do their job-hunting and secure positions before finishing their studies).

But the practice poses issues during the pandemic. In ordinary years, job-hunting students often attend in-person company recruiting seminars and preliminary group interviews, but those events have been severely disrupted due to compliance with social distancing recommendations. Coupled with businesses closing or offering fewer positions because of economic downturns, many young people have been left without job options.

That’s why three Japanese cabinet ministers met last week to discuss what can be done to help these students. Norihisa Tamura (Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare), Koichi Hagiuda (Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology), and Tetsushi Sakamoto (Minister for Promoting Dynamic Engagement of All Citizens), along with Akio Mimura (Chairman of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry) all concluded that, with the increasing employment difficulties facing upcoming graduates, qualification for shinsotsu job openings should be extended to students who have graduated within the last three years, instead brand new graduates.

Though this isn’t a law-making policy and is only a strong suggestion on the part of the ministers, the members of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which is the largest business association of small and medium business in Japan, were all in agreement with the idea, and the Federation of Economic Organizations also views the plan favorably, so it seems it will be adopted by many companies.

But while this idea is good in theory, in practice its effectiveness may be limited. Shinsotsu jobs are usually given to students who go through a grueling and stressful job hunting process that starts in their third year of college. By the end of their third year, they would hopefully have received an informal offer of employment from a company, with a formal offer arriving in the middle of their final year.

In other words, when companies recruit for shinsotsu positions, they’re really interviewing upcoming graduates. So if companies follow the ministers’ recommendation and extend their definition of shinsotsu to a three-year window, will they apply that only to students who will be graduating at the end of the current academic year in spring 2021 and are applying for jobs from 2021 to 2024, or will that same three-year courtesy be retroactively granted to students who graduated in 2018-2020 and want to apply for a shinsotsu position in 2021? And if the extension is applied to 2018-2020 graduates, would they have voided their shinsotsu eligibility if they took some other job to make ends meet in the meanwhile, a job they might have lost during the economic downturn?

Hopefully the ministers are working to help more than just the class of 2021, because too many people are struggling to keep afloat in the middle of this pandemic and its resulting recession.

Source: Jiji.com via Otacom, NHK News Web
Top image: Pakutaso

Insert image: Pakutaso
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