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Japan gov't to allow firms to use early internship evaluations in recruiting

This file photo shows the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. (Mainichi/Hiroyuki Takazoe)

TOKYO -- The government on June 13 decided to allow companies to use internships conducted before the traditional start of the job-hunting season to evaluate prospective employees from among university undergraduate and graduate students -- a move that could speed up early recruitment.

    The government has designated June 1 as the start of the job-hunting season. It previously said internships conducted before the end of May would not be treated as part of the screening process. Now, however, the government has acknowledged that internships conducted before the end of May can be used for recruitment activities.

    The Sangaku Kyogikai (industry-academic council) represented by the heads of Keidanren (the Japan Business Federation) and national, public and private universities, had demanded in April that the government allow companies to use information on students gathered during their internships for the recruitment process.

    In response, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare held a joint meeting on June 13 to revise the "basic way of thinking when promoting internships," and the three ministries formulated an agreement. It was the first revision to the guidelines in about 6 1/2 years, and the third since the rules were established in 1997.

    When hiring students attending a four-year college, companies will be allowed to use evaluations given to those who participated in internships during the summer break of their third year. This will apply to internships to be held in the summer of 2023 at the earliest.

    It is said that many firms have already been using internships as part of the screening process. With the stamp of approval from the government, the programs could become a de facto job-hunting activity, possibly accelerating the earlier-than-usual hiring of students referred to as "aota gai" in Japanese.

    The internship period has been set during long vacation periods such as summer break in consideration of students' studies, and each internship must last five days or longer with more than half of the time consisting of work experience. The government has urged companies to inform students of their evaluation afterward, including if they are suited for the job.

    For students, a good evaluation may be advantageous at the time of selection, but a bad evaluation could be disadvantageous. A Keidanren official said, "We would like students to carefully consider which firms they would like to choose for internships."

    Meanwhile, a government official pointed out, "In the end, internships do not replace recruitment activities. We would like to make this fact known, so that there is no misunderstanding."

    (Japanese original by Hajime Nakatsugawa, Business News Department)

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