Japanese start-up helping ‘delinquents’ compete against college graduates for city jobs with new internship

The company Hassyadai has so far helped 100 youth from outside Tokyo to land employment

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 December, 2017, 7:59pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 December, 2017, 9:44pm

A Tokyo start-up is generating buzz with a new internship programme to connect non-college graduates – many of whom are considered delinquent youth – with companies in the grips of a deepening labour shortage.

Hassyadai’s project is aimed at helping graduates of high schools and junior high schools outside Tokyo gain access to employment information and job choices, allowing them an opportunity to hold their own against college graduates.

Client companies have given the programme high approval. Since starting the project in the fall of last year, Hassyadai has trained about 100 young jobseekers.

Dubbed the “Yankee internship”, the programme, whose participants range in age from 16 to 22, is unique in that it includes the category of Yankee – Japanese slang for delinquent youth.

Such juveniles are popular as potential workers among companies in need of staff because although they “are wayward they have guts,” Hassyadai says.

“Many of them are actually quite earnest,” said Shigeto Hashimoto, 26, a company director.

In late September, Hassyadai held the internship for about 30 trainees at its office in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward.

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“You shouldn’t be satisfied just by taking part in the programme,” Hirofumi Ueda, 33, an adviser to Hassyadai, told them. “You need to imagine how you wish to grow.”

Hassyadai provides trainees with accommodation in Tokyo, as well as lessons in English conversation, programming and business etiquette. On weekdays, the trainees sell internet connections door-to-door.

Ueda said a key was getting trainees to open up.

“We aim to have trainees frankly express their opinions to help them realise what they understand and the issues they need to work on.”

Hashimoto said the firm’s goal was “to narrow the information gap” between these youth and university graduates from the city.

Masahiro Takeda, 20, has been in the programme since July. He graduated from a technical high school in coastal city of Toyama two years ago and started working at a factory run by a major company. But he decided to quit as he found the seniority system and monotonous work at his job unrewarding. He joined Hassyadai’s programme seeking a better opportunity.

“I hope to work with ambitious peers and start my own business in the future,” Takeda said.

Hassyadai said it receives dozens of inquiries from companies about the programme, which has gained a following among client companies mainly through word of mouth.

An official of a staffing agency that hired a Hassyadai trainee as full-time employee in October said: “They are hungrier than college graduates who take choosing companies for granted. What’s great about them is that they are young and energetic.”

Only about 400,000 new college graduates are employed each year, although the population of those in their 20s is more than 1 million per academic year – meaning more than half of the youth are non-college graduates, including those from junior college and vocational schools.

A survey by the education ministry showed that over 98 per cent of the 188,000 people who graduated from senior high schools in the previous academic year ended in March were employed. But less than 60 per cent of high school graduates stay at the same company three years later, according to statistics.

Yukie Hori, a chief researcher at the Japan Institute for Labor Policy and Training, said: “An increasing number of companies are interested in hiring high school graduates since they can proactively train them early on to fit their business. This demand is likely to continue growing.”