Director Yoshitaka Asami of Asuka Corporation, a temporary staffing agency and referral service for Japanese preschools, on working with GPlusMedia to offer the same services to foreign teachers in Japan.
The Asuka Corporation (Japanese) is a company that has been working with Japanese preschools to solve their temporary staffing needs for over 25 years. Due to the country’s declining birthrate and the government’s new emphasis on making English a required part of school curriculums, Asuka has directed some of its business to providing foreign instructors to the schools with which it works.
We sat down with Asami to talk about the company’s reasons for taking on these foreign teacher referrals, the differences — if any — from screening Japanese applicants and any insights he has to pass on about working with non-Japanese staff from his time working with GPlusMedia.
GPlusMedia services used:
- GaijinPot Jobs
- Recruiting, job postings, managed search
Please tell us about Asuka Corporation.
Yoshitaka Asami: Asuka Corporation is an HR staffing and referral company that’s entering its 26th year in business. Our primary operations are referrals and temporary staffing for Japanese preschool teachers. Four years ago, we started offering our services for foreign workers and that is when we started using GaijinPot Jobs.
Why did you start providing referral services to foreigners in Japan?
YA: As Japan’s birthrate falls and its population ages, we had concerns that our preschool teacher referral business would peak. Providing foreign language teachers to preschools and kindergartens had synergy with our main business of teacher staffing, so we started to make strides in that sector. Our referral services for foreign workers are now growing little by little every year.
How did you like using GaijinPot Jobs?
YA: Having an abundance of Western candidates available [from GPlusMedia] was a selling point for our general corporate and education clients, so we are satisfied with the ability to gather applications from Westerners. We also use other services, but we hire the most through GaijinPot Jobs.
Do you have any criteria for screening applications and interviewing candidates?
YA: We review their recent work histories and length of service. We tend to think that if someone has not remained in a position for at least a year, they will not likely work for our clients or us for very long. During the interviews, we always check whether they have work visas. When staffing for general corporations, we also have Japanese language requirements, so we see how proficient candidates are in Japanese during our conversations.
Roughly 10% of all applicants pass the screening phase to have an interview. After that, approximately 7% of all candidates get hired. The standard time it takes from joining us to receiving a referral as temporary staff for a company is one month — so we get our recruits working pretty quickly.
Are there industries or sectors with a growing demand for foreign employees?
YA: English education is being taken more seriously, so we believe that demand in the education industry will grow. The Japanese market for this is saturated, so we also receive many inquiries from B2B companies in the manufacturing industry that want overseas sales personnel. Specifically, these companies are looking for candidates who can give presentations at international trade expos.
What are the differences between staffing Japanese preschool teachers and staffing foreign workers?
YA: Foreign workers are often more aggressive than Japanese people, so some of them seem to exaggerate more when selling themselves. For instance, even if a candidate’s history does not meet a job requirement, they will apply for the job and assert that they can do it, anyway. So we try to find out whether they are actually capable of that during the interview process.
Do you have any advice or a message for companies looking to hire foreigners for the first time?
YA: I think many people feel that there is a hurdle in hiring foreign workers. However, after interviewing and speaking with them, it becomes evident that they do not differ much from Japanese people. I imagine employers’ understanding of foreigners would change if they were to start accepting applications from — then interview — foreign candidates.
Another thing to note is that there are differences in how foreigners and Japanese feel about work. If a foreigner has worked in Japan before, he or she may understand those differences and adapt to the Japanese approach. Companies will need to carefully explain their expectations to foreign employees working in Japan for the first time so there is a mutual understanding. Initially, hiring foreigners would probably go more smoothly if companies were to hire individuals who already have experience working in Japan.