(Daily Yomiuri Nov. 30, 2012)
Jun Ishikawa and Kazuaki Ishii / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writers
University students listen to a company representative speak at a job fair for new graduates held this month in Minato Ward, Tokyo.
At a job fair in Minato Ward, Tokyo, for university students graduating next spring, about 30 firms from such industries as real estate and food service set up booths. The venue was packed with students dressed in suits.

However, some students had been hoping for a bigger turnout from potential employers.

“I thought other good companies would be here,” said a Kokugakuin University senior who has already received job offers from two firms. The 24-year-old said he would continue looking for a job until he was satisfied.

He said he would attend a final interview shortly and visited several booths. “I want to keep looking, so I’m staying on my toes,” he added.

The employment situation for university students set to graduate next spring has improved. According to government figures released this week, 63.1 percent of these students had found jobs as of Oct. 1, up 3.2 percentage points from last year.

Although the Kokugakuin senior has several offers to choose from, the news is not all good. Despite the improved employment figures, 150,000 graduates-to-be still have not received any offers. It seems there is a mismatch between prestigious companies many students want to join and firms that are actually looking to hire more staff.

This year, the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) revised its ethics charter for member firms, allowing students graduating in spring to contact companies beginning December of their junior year. The previous date was October.

However, the actual selection process begins in April of senior year. Consequently, some students failed to find companies or industries suited to them within this short time frame.

“Even after I started job hunting, I couldn’t find companies I really wanted to work for,” a 23-year-old senior at Surugadai University said. He took about 20 job examinations, mainly targeting major, industry-leading firms, but has received no job offers.

He now regrets taking so many job exams without any specific type of work in mind.

“I should have researched the companies instead of letting myself be swayed by others,” he said.


Firms hoping to hire more

This year’s improvement in the percentage of students who have received job offers before graduation is mainly due to a recovery in hiring among companies.

According to job fair organizer Access Humanext Co., companies that have cut back on new graduate recruitment after the so-called Lehman shock in 2008 tended to increase hires this year after experiencing staffing shortages.

“Companies can’t keep cutting back recruitment for years on end. Even among firms that did not hire new graduates or reduced recruitment after last year’s Great East Japan Earthquake, some started hiring new graduates as business conditions improved,” the president of Access Humanext said.

Yamane Medical, a Chuo Ward, Tokyo-based day care facility operator, is one such company. It set up a booth at the job fair, and plans to hire 80 to 100 new graduates–more than double last year’s figure.

“Probably because other companies also hire so many graduates, some students are choosing other firms even after attending our orientation for people we have informally offered jobs to, so we plan to hire more people in autumn job exams,” a human resources manager from Yamane Medical said.

According to Mynavi Corp., which provides job information, firms in industries such as retail, nursing care services and food service are showing a strong interest in hiring.

“Lots of major, midsize and small companies will hire more new graduates for next spring than for this spring,” a Mynavi official said. “So students who haven’t received any job offers shouldn’t worry alone. Rather, it’s important for them to continue searching and using Hello Work job placement offices.”