Japanese firms woo local talent

SEEKING EMPLOYEES: Apparel chain Uniqlo is one of many Japanese companies which are hiring graduates here through university career fairs.


    Sep 23, 2013

    Japanese firms woo local talent

    POPULAR apparel chain Uniqlo has been expanding in Singapore recently. It opened 12 outlets in just a short span of four years, recruiting graduates here through university career fairs.

    And more Japanese companies like Uniqlo have done so, too, tertiary institutions told My Paper.

    The National University of Singapore (NUS) said it had just four participating Japanese companies in 2010. But that number rose to 16 this year. This includes not just established companies like Mitsubishi and Sumitomo, but small and medium-sized enterprises as well.

    Similarly, the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) had two Japanese companies involved in 2009 and this increased to about 10 this year. More are expected to visit its campus over the next few months to hold recruitment drives.

    "These companies are recruiting from outside of Japan to diversify their workforce and increase their competitiveness within and outside Asia," explained Mr Loh Pui Wah, director of the career and attachment office at NTU.

    Ms Corrine Ong, director of NUS' career centre, said the allure of graduates here is that many of them are bilingual and being able to communicate in Chinese is useful with the emerging China market.

    Ms Ong added that, while South Korean brands have similarly made headway in Singapore, no such companies have expressed interest to NUS to recruit Singaporean graduates.

    The Japanese companies which have recruitment tie-ups with universities span different industries. They range from pharmaceuticals and finance, to fashion and electronics, where job placements can be in Singapore, Japan or their other overseas offices.

    In Uniqlo's case, it is offering positions in its Uniqlo Manager Candidate Programme, under which successful candidates will be stationed at its retail stores and be given the opportunity to rise through the ranks to managerial positions.

    Other job positions offered by Japanese companies include an engineering one at electronics firm Toshiba and a sales-executive role at advertising firm Sanko Partners.

    The majority of the Japanese companies recruiting university graduates here do not require Japanese-language proficiency, with many providing selected candidates a special language programme.

    Toshiba, which has been promoting its global recruitment programme since 2006, said it is essential to diversify its human resources to enhance its "global competitiveness".

    The conglomerate has many Singaporeans in its Japan headquarters, including software engineer Kelvin Song, 31.

    Mr Song, who has been at Toshiba for six years, said: "As a computer engineer, I chose to challenge myself in the most technologically advanced country in the world. I got to learn a new language, experience a new culture and see the world."