Japanese Companies Want High Japanese Proficiency
In Japan when hiring non-Japanese with a college degree and specialized skills and knowledge, the attitude of companies that require a high level of conversational ability in Japanese has become a barrier to employment. December, 2021 private data showed that while more than 70% of job offers require the highest level of Japanese language skills, only less than 40% of job seekers meet that level. The government is trying to attract researchers and engineers from overseas as “high-level foreign human resources,” but the current hiring policy, which assumes communication in Japanese, is causing them to lose opportunities to play an active role.
In the U.S. and Europe, the use of human resources that emphasize expertise rather than conversational ability has taken root, and as the labor shortage in the IT (information technology) field becomes more serious, more and more Japanese companies are required to take a stance to secure the leaders of growth from overseas as well.
According to the compiled data on job offers and job seekers from Human Global Talent (Shinjuku, Tokyo) and Global Power (Taito, Tokyo), both of which operate employment websites for non-Japanese.
Looking at the Japanese language skills required by companies for non-Japanese with specialized skills, 75% of the 18,000 job openings as of late November 2021 required a level of “N1” or higher, which is considered to be able to understand Japanese used in a wide range of situations in the Japanese Language Proficiency Test conducted by the Japan Foundation and other organizations. On the other hand, only 37% of the approximately 9,000 registered job seekers had the same level.
Ryoji Shimada, president of Manabink LLC, said, “There are many cases where companies that place importance on Japanese language skills miss out on talented foreign human resources.”
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry estimates that there will be a shortage of up to 790,000 IT personnel in 2030. It is in the IT field that the use of overseas human resources is essential. However, according to a survey conducted by the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) in 2007, only 36.9% of foreign students found jobs in Japan, which is less than the government’s target of 50%.
In a questionnaire conducted by Meiko Network Japan, HR managers who were reluctant to hire foreign nationals were asked to give multiple reasons for their reluctance, and the most common answer, at 48%, was “concerns about language and communication.”
In Japan, “membership-type” employment, which does not limit the nature of the job, is the main type of employment, and the lack of clarity about the skills required is one of the reasons why excessive emphasis is placed on Japanese language skills.
Manabink LLC, a non-Japanese job agency, has set its sights on non-Japanese with an N3 level of Japanese language proficiency who can “understand daily Japanese to some extent.”
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