German-style Vocational Program Launches for First Time in Japan

The Japan News
Executives of the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan and participants in the newly launched vocational program are seen in Tokyo on April 4.

The first German-style vocational program, combining hands-on and classroom learning, was launched in Japan this month by the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan (AHK Japan), as it aims to train new meisters of auto mechanics. German companies based in Japan have struggled to secure highly skilled staff due to competition with Japanese companies, and AHK Japan is working to make it easier for these companies to acquire such personnel.

Participants in the program will follow a curriculum modelled on one used in Germany. Trainees participate in hands-on training at factories of automobile companies, while also acquiring knowledge about automobile maintenance in lectures such as at a vocational school. The program will last for three years.

Upon completion of the program, participants will receive a certificate in accordance with German government regulations and have the chance to be employed by companies where they had trained. In the future, AHK Japan hopes to make the German certificate compatible with Japanese qualifications.

BMW Japan Corp. and Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corp., a subsidiary of German company Daimler Truck AG, have joined the program and participants will come from Mitsubishi Fuso and affiliates of BMW Japan. Lectures will be conducted by a nonprofit organization in Tokyo and a vocational school in Kobe.

The Japan News
Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corp. Chairman Kazuo Matsunaga speaks at a ceremony in Tokyo on April 4.

At a kick-off ceremony held on April 4, Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Chairman Kazuo Matsunaga expressed his hope that the program would be “a valuable experience for those who bear the future [of the automotive industry].”

According to a survey of German businesses in Japan, conducted by AHK Japan and another organization in January and February, 82% of respondents said their biggest business challenge was securing superior staff. The survey contacted 472 companies operating in Japan and 164 companies responded. Against this backdrop, AHK Japan decided to launch the program in Japan as part of its efforts to secure workers for German companies.

Lucas Witoslawski, COO of AHK Japan, said, “By supporting our companies in their human resources needs, we want to make a sustainable contribution to the development of German-Japanese bilateral relations.”

German-style vocational programs have been launched outside Germany in about 50 countries, including China, South Korea, Italy and Brazil, not only in the automotive industry but also in such fields as electronics and chemicals, Witoslawski said. AHK Japan will consider expanding the program outside the automotive industry in the future, based on requests from companies.