Retailers, builders rely on foreigners to allay staff shortages

posted on December 3, 2015

Aching from severe labor shortages, Japanese retail, food service and construction companies are actively hiring foreigners from other Asian countries as interns, with help from regulatory changes that took effect earlier this year.

The Technical Intern Training Program was broadened in April to cover preparation of ready-to-eat foods, as well as beef and pork processing. The maximum length of work allowed under the program was also extended by up to three years for construction interns. Initially intended as a way for Japan to share technology with other countries, the program is now helping supply much needed labor to the country.

Supermarket operator Yaoko plans to hire at least 100 foreigners by the end of fiscal 2016. Many will likely be teenagers and 20-somethings. Six Chinese interns are already preparing sashimi and six Sri Lankans are helping make bread at a handful of stores. The company will focus on Vietnamese going forward. Many applicants wish to work for a Japanese company operating in their home country in the future, according to Yaoko.

Companies can notify Japanese organizations brokering placement of how many trainees they want, such as the chamber of commerce or an industry association. Agencies abroad then handle selection and hiring processes.

Yaoko's recruitment activity has drawn applications at a pace three to four times the number of job openings -- underscoring fierce competition. Those who manage to get a job will study the Japanese language and technical skills over a half-year period in their home country and then head to Japan. Employers pay the brokering Japanese organization and workers receive 70,000 yen to 80,000 yen ($565 to $645) per month after subtracting fees for room and board.

source by nikkei
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