On January 17 the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare (MHLW) released the results of a survey conducted in December 2011, together with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT), on job-offer conditions for students graduating in March 2012. The survey covered universities, junior colleges, technical colleges, and vocational schools throughout Japan.
The survey revealed that as of December, the job-offer ratio for expectant university graduates was 71.9%, 3.1 percentage points higher than the previous year's all-time low. The ratio for junior college students was 47.9%, an improvement of 2.6 points, but this still meant that nearly half of expectant junior college graduates were without job offers at the turn of the year. Similarly, the ratio for expectant vocational school graduates was 58.6%, meaning that two out of five students had not yet received job offers.
In contrast, the job-offer ratio for expectant technical college graduates was 97.2%, up 2.5 points year on year. One of the reasons for this high figure is that technical colleges are educational institutions that train engineers, teaching special trades deeply and cultivating the skills necessary for employment.
Explaining that "although there has been an improvement over the previous year for universities, junior colleges, and vocational schools, their job-offer ratios are still severe," the MHLW and MEXT announced a policy of endeavoring to improve the job-hunting environment.
While the job-offer ratios for expectant graduates are harsh, together with changes in the labour market, the employment situation for young people in general is exacerbating the situation. According to a September 2011 labour force survey conducted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, while the average unemployment rate for all age groups is 4.1%, the figure rises to 7.2% for people aged 24 years or under and 5.3% for people aged 25-34 years. Moreover, the number of young people not working, not studying, and not engaged in household work is 240,000 in the 15-24 age group and 340,000 in the 25-34 age group. These figures show that the employment situation for young people is becoming increasingly serious.
In its regular policy consultations with the government and on other occasions, RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) has made demands for additional economic measures emphasizing job-hunting support for young people in order to improve the harsh employment situation for new graduates. These demands are leading to the expansion of job opportunities for young people through, among other things, the establishment of a job expansion incentive and revision of the Guidelines to Ensure Job Opportunities for Young People.
In addition, in order to provide more job-application opportunities, RENGO is urging positive consideration of the introduction of such schemes as year-round recruitment and the creation of jobs.