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Japan expands jobs for int’l vocational grads

Japan’s government has announced international vocational graduates will be given more job opportunities in an effort to boost population numbers.
August 3 2023
3 Min Read

In an effort to boost the country’s declining population, Japan’s government has announced international vocational students will be given more job options in-country upon graduation.

Guidelines from the Council for the Creation of Future Education in Japan mentions that there will be more “cooperation with companies” to help graduates from certain vocational schools “demonstrate their specialised knowledge”. 

“We have newly created a system to certify high-quality vocational schools, and international students who have completed accredited schools.

“We will flexibly respond to changes to the status of residence… and treat them in the same way as international students who have graduated from universities,” the proposal read. 

A representative from the Higher Education Bureau of MEXT, Japan’s education ministry, confirmed to The PIE News that based on the proposal, the system would be in place around Autumn 2023. 

“The goal is to keep about 3,000 graduating students a year who were previously returning due to a lack of job opportunities,” i-Graduate director for Asia, Guy Perring, told The PIE. 

“The focus on vocational schools (Senmon Gakko) is due to the gaps in some key areas such as nursing care, machine parts and tooling industries, electronic and Information Industries, automobile and construction.

“In July, PM Fumio Kishida said that citizens in Japan needed to think about a society where we can live together with foreigners,” he continued.

In its article analysing the issue, i-Graduate dubbed MEXT’s efforts to help universities more effectively transition their international students into graduates that can contribute to Japan’s workforce “encouraging” – most notably, The International Student Employment Promotion Education Program Accreditation System

“There is a need to replicate this approach at a vocational school level in addition to individual school programs,” Perring said. 

“As in the UK where there are some excellent examples of careers support for international students, Japan needs to look at best practises overseas and how they cater for international students. 

“At present, the careers support in many Japanese institutions will not have the experience or expertise in these areas,” he explained. 

i-Graduate’s insights on filling employment gaps in Japan referenced data from its Student Experience Survey which said 82% of students surveyed viewed post-study work as very important or at least important – and that Japan will benefit from more “explicit opportunities”.

The new guidelines and accreditation system is expected to patch the hole in the system, but no official tandem program like the current one for universities has been announced yet. 

While the Immigration Services Agency is expected to be launching the new accreditation system for vocational schools later this year, the guidelines above have been issued by the Council for the Creation of Future Education – what’s more, the university program for promoting employment for international students is run by MEXT. 

“Citizens in Japan needed to think about a society where we can live together with foreigners”

“Establishing a clear route and pathway to employment is vital. Often messages can become confusing when multiple ministries are involved,” Perring noted. 

While the move is much needed for Japan’s population issues – “a decreasing amount of children” was how Ritsumeikan APU’s dean of academic affairs Serik Meirmanov described the problem in a separate PIE interview – the idea won’t be “celebrated by all parts of the population”. 

“Japan will face the same challenges that other countries face with increasing numbers of international students and foreign workers,” Perring pointed out.

“But it strikes me that the recent policy announcements are actually very novel in the world of higher education where there is a real need for skilled qualified workers in certain areas. 

“Japan is making the first steps to reach out to international students to link them to these job opportunities,” he added.

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