Create environment in which high schoolers can choose jobs they want

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry / Central Gov’t Bldg. No.5, In Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan, November 3, 2020.

To enable high school students to choose the kind of jobs they want, it is important to appropriately review how job-hunting activities should be conducted.

The screening process through which companies recruit high school students has started nationwide.

Of the about 1 million high school students who are due to graduate next spring, 145,000 want to work for private companies, down by 10% from the previous year, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

The number of students who are opting for further education at universities and elsewhere is believed to have increased because they anticipate a hiring slump as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The number of job openings is 20% lower than it was two years ago before the coronavirus outbreak, and the situation has remained severe.

While job offers in the manufacturing industry have increased, the figures for the lodging, service and retail industries have dropped, largely affecting high schoolers. Many students must be anxious about whether they will be able to find the kind of job they want.

It is hoped that the central and local governments will strengthen efforts to secure job openings at the Hello Work public job placement offices, among other entities, while cooperating closely with schools to support students who hope to find jobs.

It is concerning that many people in recent years have quit their jobs relatively soon after starting work. Of those who started working after graduating high school in spring 2017, 40% quit their job within three years, surpassing the 30% of university graduates who did so.

To quit a job early on not only puts workers at a disadvantage in terms of acquiring skills and building careers, they may also continue to have an unstable life once they become non-regular workers after leaving.

It is important to prevent mismatches by enabling students to select a job in keeping with their wishes and aptitude, after they fully understand the exact nature of the work.

Customary practice in most prefectures has high school students limit their first job applications to only one company. This system is advantageous for both schools and companies. For example, students can find jobs in a short period of time with less effect on their academic performance, and there is also little chance of students declining unofficial job offers.

On the other hand, students cannot compare various companies to choose one. The age of adulthood will be lowered to 18 next April. It is necessary to put more emphasis on students’ independence.

Last year, an expert panel of the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry and the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry released a report urging the need for the system to be reviewed on a regional basis as to how high schoolers’ job-hunting activities should be conducted, including the possibility of allowing them to apply to multiple companies.

The Wakayama prefectural government has decided to allow students to apply to several companies from this fiscal year. It is hoped that other prefectural governments will actively review the system, taking into account the circumstances of each region.

It is also essential for companies to help nurture students’ views on jobs, not only when they are doing job-hunting activities but also when they are younger. The hope is that they will have more opportunities to think about the meaning of work through on-the-job experience and other activities.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on Sept. 27, 2021.