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2009年11月21日 (土)


--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 20(IHT/Asahi: November 21,2009)
EDITORIAL: Job market for students
As of early October, nearly 40 percent of university seniors seeking jobs after they graduate in March had no offers of employment, according to a government survey.

The percentage of those who secured job offers dropped nearly to the level of 2003, the peak of extreme job scarcity dubbed the "employment ice age."

Companies that have reduced the number of new hires have apparently become more selective amid the uncertain economic outlook. The situation is also serious for students who will graduate from high school.

From around 1995 to 2005, companies curbed their recruitment of new graduates as regular employees and replaced them with nonregular workers.

Young people who could not land permanent jobs on graduation had no choice but to continue to work as dispatch workers or so-called freeters without acquiring skills. Since their income is unstable, such workers are hesitant to get married or start a family. Seriously hit by the financial crisis that started last year, many people lost their jobs and homes at the same time.

How to support these young people of "the lost generation" has become a weighty social problem. To prevent a recurrence of the situation, the government should do whatever it can to support job-seeking students toward next spring.

The government's task force for emergency job measures has taken action for would-be graduates and is calling on business organizations to expand employment. However, companies are also crying for help, saying they already face difficulties maintaining current payrolls.

But there must be industries suffering from a labor shortage as well as medium-sized and small businesses that are eager to hire. Perhaps this is a chance for students to look at new areas of growth potential rather than seeking stable employment at major companies.

Hello Work public job placement offices, universities and other schools should tie up to find job offers in local communities and create more opportunities to bring employers and students together.

There is another problem that must be addressed on a long-term basis. It is the corporate practice of hiring new graduates en masse only once a year in spring. We wonder if the practice will remain effective.

This hiring practice only worked when the economy grew steadily and companies trained workers under the lifetime employment system. Now, each time the economy slumps, many regular workers lose their jobs, which increases instability in the labor market.

We are now in an age in which diversified talent is sought. However, under the current hiring practice, job-seeking students and prospective employers have only one opportunity to meet, upon the students' graduation.

Mid-career and year-round hiring should be expanded so that students who graduated earlier can repeatedly apply for regular positions. A system is also needed to help young unemployed people acquire skills and techniques so that they can continue to apply for jobs.

During economic downturns, the practice of hiring new graduates en masse causes a serious distortion in university education.

Companies are moving up the timing of recruitment to secure competent students. This has caused anxious students to scurry and attend job-briefing sessions and interviews, which eats away the time of students who should be devoted to learning.

If such activities undermine students' potential as competent workers, it would be tantamount to putting the cart before the horse.


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