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Politics

Companies, Japanese schools team on longer internships

A new program will offer college internships lasting one month or more.

TOKYO -- Seventeen companies will partner with 11 Japanese universities and technical institutes to recruit candidates who will serve long-term internships in a bid to cultivate strong, loyal workers and boost Japan Inc.'s global advantage.

The internships will last at least a month and will be offered to first- and second-year college students.

Participating companies, mainly big names like Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., have determined that lengthy internships before graduation can develop a sense of professionalism in future hires. Interns also will get to know the industry, preventing mismatches during full-fledged hiring season.

The Japan Association of Corporate Executives will administer the program. The employers and schools will exchange views to ensure that recruits are not skewed toward a particular group of industries or companies.

Much of the program will be implemented in August during summer vacation. Companies will accept four to five students each for an estimated total of 70 interns. More schools and companies may join depending on the success of the summer sessions.

The internships will not interfere with regular class time, and the companies will pay transportation, lodging and other out-of-pocket expenses. The students will earn college credit for their work. Starting next year, interns will be compensated in accordance with their duties.

Fuji Xerox internships will last about  four weeks starting in mid-August. The Fujifilm Holdings unit will recruit five students from five colleges, including Hokkaido and Niigata universities. Those interns will gain on-site experience in sales as well as research and development. Cosmetics maker Kao will take five interns from Sophia University and four other schools beginning at the end of August, assigning them to the Tokyo head office and manufacturing facilities.

Students from Kure National College of Technology will complete roughly two-month internships starting this month at the Japanese arm of U.S. chemical maker DuPont. They will gain firsthand experience providing professional support for areas such as development of high-performance plastic materials and quality control.

Internships have existed in Western countries for more than a century. U.S. internships typically last several months, come with stipends and can lead to permanent positions at the companies. Interns also include many high school students.

Japan's internship system is less developed, though many businesses take interns for one- to two-day stints. During the postwar era, Japanese companies have usually hired college graduates en masse with the intent of training the recruits in-house. But voluntary turnover of employees has become a problem with the disruption of the workplace seniority system.

The program is targeted to students in their first two years of college in response to concerns that internships will let employers secure talent before Japan's official recruiting period.

(Nikkei)

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