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Franchise body wants convenience stores to teach foreign trainees management skills

Products are seen at a convenience store in Tokyo's Shinagawa Ward in this Sept. 26, 2016 file photo. (Mainichi)

The Japan Franchise Association (JFA) is working toward adding the skill of convenience store management to training programs for foreign interns in Japan, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned.

By offering this skill, it is hoped that foreign trainees will be able to help drive the expansion of convenience stores in their home countries, after first gaining the relevant expertise in Japan. All of the major Japanese convenience store operators are affiliated to the association.

However, it will be first necessary for the JFA to apply to the government to get convenience store management added to the list of occupations under the training program system. It is thought that the organization will make this application as early as the start of the new year, together with details about measures to test development of the trainees' skills.

Under the proposed scheme, trainees will learn about convenience store management, which would cover not just the operation of cash registers and product displays, but also inventory management and the creation of business plans. Currently, there are 77 job categories under the training system, across fields such as construction, sewing and agriculture.

The move by the JFA follows a suggestion by a Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry research panel in 2015 asking whether convenience store operations could be added as a training program that could help develop distribution industries in developing countries.

Convenience store operators in recent years have accepted a growing number of foreign trainees from Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam and Thailand. The operators say the trainees can use the knowhow picked up in Japan to help establish stores in developing countries.

Three of the major operators, Seven-Eleven Japan Co., Lawson Inc. and FamilyMart Co., together employ more than 40,000 foreigners, mainly exchange students, which represents about 5 percent of the total number of convenience store workers across the country.

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