In fresh growth strategy, Japan Inc is venturing abroad for new talent

Toh Chen Yang, a final year student at the National University of Singapore, accepted a general job offer with a Japanese bank after a series of interviews conducted in Singapore and Japan through a middleman firm. -- PHOTO: AFP
Toh Chen Yang, a final year student at the National University of Singapore, accepted a general job offer with a Japanese bank after a series of interviews conducted in Singapore and Japan through a middleman firm. -- PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO - Toh Chen Yang, a final year student at the National University of Singapore, accepted a general job offer with a Japanese bank after a series of interviews conducted in Singapore and Japan through a middleman firm.

He will begin his career in Tokyo in September, he told CNBC.

The financial news website in a report on Tuesday cited the case of Mr Toh to illustrate how corporate Japan has begun venturing abroad, offering lucrative training programmes to recruit employees as far away as the U.S. and Europe.

The move is part of a new growth strategy by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe which he has backed with favourable immigration policies.

Toh is exactly the sort of candidate Japan wants to attract to offset the country's aging demographic and labor crunch, said CNBC. Some 60 per cent of Japanese firms are finding it increasingly difficult to secure sufficient workers, and the shortage is pushing up wages and starting to eat into profits, it reported, citing a recent Reuters poll.

Abe's government lowered restrictions on foreign working visas last year to lure foreign talent, and early data suggest the efforts are paying off, said CNBC. The number of foreigners working in Japan has risen 9.8 per cent since October to a record 787,627, it said.

Banking titan Mitsubishi UFJ and consumer electronics giant Toshiba have taken part in a slew of job fairs around the world in recent months.

What makes Japan Inc's approach different and attractive from rival countries in the global hunt for talent is that it is offering young people without work experience and specific skills a chance to work overseas and receive detailed on-the-job training, said CNBC.

Unlike other countries, most Japanese firms put their new hires into general job roles before relegating them to specific departments after a training period, it noted.

Singapore's Mr Toh told CNBC: "There are better prospects in Japan for me based on my arts degree. In Japan your path is not fixed, it's an opportunity to learn and receive training."