Jobs December 2010 / January 2011

JAC Global Conference 2010

Latest trends for Japanese firms hiring foreigners abroad

For Japanese firms having a tough time with global recruitment, UK-based agency JAC Recruitment held its annual conference in Tokyo on 25 November attended by 55 delegates from 48 firms.

Izuho Shiojiri, director of consulting firm Aon Hewitt Japan, said that his Japanese clients operating abroad want to recruit locally, but since the 1997 Asian financial crisis it had been difficult as candidates tend not to stay long with one firm.

Many locals are reluctant to apply for jobs at Japanese firms as they feel there is little chance for foreigners to be promoted. Other reasons for a lack of applicants from qualified overseas job seekers these days are the perceived closed mentality of Japanese management and the language barrier.

Shiojiri suggested a solution is for firms to improve communication and understanding about expectations and needs between headquarters and local offices, and become more open to employing foreigners for entry-level management positions.

Japanese managers, he said, should also try harder to understand the national characters of the countries they operate in.

Takeshi Matsuzono, a senior director at JAC Recruitment Japan, said more Asians are being employed by Japanese firms and fewer Japanese want to be transferred abroad.

The conference heard that firms in developed countries are generally more enthusiastic about gaining international experience to develop their skills and knowledge, and employing locals.

Another trend is that larger Japanese manufacturers that want to move offices and factories abroad to save costs are looking to employ local production engineers and teach them the corporate philosophy for five to 10 years.

At the final panel discussion, representatives from JAC Recruitment in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, China and Thailand outlined the differences between each market.

In China increased labour costs and anti-Japanese sentiment is a recent big issue, but there is respect for Japanese firms that offer job protection and benefits.

Thailand reported problems with language; Indonesia suffers a falling population, and Malaysia and Singapore like the Western style of setting goals for individual staff, the offering of incentives and rewards, as well as the fair assessments and equal opportunities.