Mid-career internships at Japanese companies on the rise

As many Japanese companies do not allow their employees to have side jobs or part-time jobs, participants categorise their participation in internship programmes as "going to study meetings".
As many Japanese companies do not allow their employees to have side jobs or part-time jobs, participants categorise their participation in internship programmes as "going to study meetings". PHOTO: THE JAPAN NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

TOKYO (THE JAPAN NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - More mid-career executives in Japan are taking up internships at other companies, in an attempt to improve their skills and use the experience to look for a new job.

By offering these programmes, companies also gain an opportunity to obtain knowledge as well as offer jobs to interns who perform exceptionally.

CyberAgent, a major online advertising company, conducted an internship programme for working adults at its headquarters in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, on a Saturday in mid-February.

About 30 people mainly in their 20s and 30s, who hold full-time jobs in the manufacturing and information technology industries, took part in the programme.

They were divided into groups of four and tasked with drawing up advertising strategies for cars and apparel businesses.

"I could get a good grasp of what the company is like," said a 24-year-old woman who works for a major consulting firm in Tokyo. "This was a new experience for me."

Only a limited number of companies offered internship programmes for working adults before February, when Recruit Career introduced the new business, lifting interest in such programmes.

Typically, the major human resources service provider mediates between those wanting to participate in internship programmes and companies hoping to accept them.

About 30,000 people are registered with the programme currently, and about 40 companies, including Toyota Motor and Fujitsu, tap on the programme to accept candidates.

Participants take part in job experience programmes on weekday evenings and on holidays at companies that accept them.

As many Japanese companies do not allow their employees to have side jobs or part-time jobs, participants categorise their participation in internship programmes as "going to study meetings". As a result, in many cases, they do not get paid for the work they do as interns.

Many of the participants learn about jobs they have never done before and use the experience when considering a career change or move.

For those looking for a new job, they can learn more about the company and the job by working there as an intern. From such experiences, they would know what to expect should they decide to quit their current job and join the company where they intern.

By accepting interns, companies hope to hear opinions from other people other than their own employees and effectively utilise the opinions for business. Firms can also assess the skills of those in internship programmes before hiring them as new employees.

There were 3.06 million people who switched jobs in 2016, exceeding the 3 million mark for the first time since 2009, when 3.2 million people did so.

Due to a labour shortage and positive business performance, many companies have become active in mid-career recruiting, likely meaning they will use internship programmes for adult workers more.

Earlier this month (March), an expert panel of the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry compiled a report stating that the experience gained at a different organisation could later play a part in a person's career switch.

"More people will think about their future careers and plan a job change in the light of their experience of working at other companies," said Koichiro Kabata of Recruit Career.