|Volume 1: No. 25|
Japanese graduates are in such demand that Sony recently hired 100 liberal-arts majors without asking which universities they had attended. Some 400,000 jobs went unfilled in the recent hiring season, with U.S. companies having an even harder time than Japanese companies. (IBM Japan does rank in the top 20 most- desirable places to work, though.) It is common to spend over $7,000 courting an applicant, with the average hire getting 1.4 job offers. Recruiting expense at Tokyo University may go as high as $45,000 per prospect. "When 'good' students visit our plant, all of the appointments and deadlines of the day are automatically postponed." Apparently, Japanese companies are convinced that these top students really are worth the cost. (In the U.S., of course, companies can't count on a fast-track hire staying for very long. Japan is different.) [Kay Itoi, Newsweek, 9/16/91.]
On the other hand, many foreign companies are having success in recruiting Japanese employees. DEC Japan hired 295 graduates last year, and expects to hire 400 this year. It's true that there are 143 jobs for every 100 job seekers, but U.S. companies can draw recruits with 10% better pay, shorter hours, more flexibility, merit-based promotions, and more jobs for women. Also, foreign companies are building better cultures now that they have stopped confusing English fluency with managerial competence. [Robert Neff, Business Week, 6/24.]
Incidentally, NSF has been very well served by it's staff in Tokyo. One man in particular -- I regret that I don't know his name -- joined decades ago when NSF first opened the office. It was a brave thing to do. He has made a career of serving NSF well, and has provided translation skills, office management, and many other essential services for the rotating staff. It is difficult to find such dedication in the U.S.
Japan is short about 500,000 programmers, which means that companies are losing business and may even be cutting corners. Many companies are moving their programming to other Asian countries where salaries may be 80% less. China's programmers are familiar with Kanji; Malaysia's have often been trained in the U.S., Canada, England, or Australia. Singapore, India, and the Philippines are also popular. Andersen Consulting has had a 500- person business applications software house in the Philippines for six years, and finds it cost-effective for simple jobs requiring at least 1000 person-days. 20% of their work is for the Japanese. NEC opened its 40-person Singapore Software Development Center in 1985. IBM Japan Ltd. has groups in China, India, and Singapore. A job that would cost $120K in Japan might cost $50K in India and $35K in Shenzen. [Lori Valigra, ComputerWorld, 8/26.]
While U.S.-based venture funds are looking for investments in Asia, many Japanese funds are looking in the U.S. The Japanese prefer minority investments in technology niches and market niches. "They are more likely to develop new businesses that involve technology infusion, or maybe cross-licensing, than to fund raw startups," according to George Koo, chairman of the SOURCES 1991: Conference for Asian Financing and Funding. Asian investors look for business development rather than immediate return on investment. The large Asian immigrant population in Silicon Valley helps draw Asian venture capital, which often often comes from high personal savings rates abroad. [Murali Gometam, MicroTimes, 9/2.]