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Economy

Japan business lobby adopts year-round hiring in blow to tradition

Move away from spring recruiting to help companies compete for global talent

Japanese college students attend a job fair. Students typically follow a strict job-seeking schedule as they approach graduation.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japan's powerful Keidanren business lobby has agreed with universities to expand year-round hiring of new graduates, moving away from the spring recruitment that has been a fixture of the nation's seniority-based employment system.

Keidanren, or the Japan Business Federation, which includes the country's most valuable corporations, plans to have member companies phase in the new approach starting with the class of 2022.

The change comes as Japanese employers face international competition for workers with skills needed in an era of global and digital business, such as information technology and foreign languages.

For university students seeking careers at Japan's top companies, the process typically starts with recruiting fairs in March of their third year. Successful candidates usually receive informal job offers in October ahead of graduation the following March.

This approach crams the job search into just a few months, often leaving graduates in positions that do not match their expectations. It also works poorly for students who study abroad or take internships to build their skills.

Keidanren Chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi said in October that the group would scrap guidelines that essentially dictate the current schedule.

The federation will push for increased flexibility in recruiting for roles that require advanced technical skills or marketing expertise, for example. Alternatives include starting the recruitment process after graduation, possibly following an internship.

Traditional spring recruiting is likely to remain part of the landscape, as many companies prefer a more planned-out approach to hiring.

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