Reasons why Japanese do not go on to graduate school

Reasons why Japanese do not go on to graduate school Japan

A survey conducted by a University of Tokyo professor and his colleagues has revealed that the number of master’s and Doctoral Degree holders in Japan is declining. 

Why is this situation going against the Global trend in Japan? We believe the cause lies in the “ultra-Galapagos hiring” that Japanese companies continue to pursue, which deviates from international standards.

Japan’s Dark Side

Japan’s “trend toward less-educated people” continues unabated.

While the number of people obtaining “Masters and Doctoral Degrees” has been accelerating in the world’s developed countries over the past decade, we have found that the number of people obtaining Doctoral Degrees in Japan has decreased by more than 10%.

In particular, in the U.S. and China, the number of Doctoral Degree holders has increased by more than 20%, and the same trend is seen in Master’s Degrees as well, indicating a growing desire for higher education. In Japan, on the other hand, the number of students decreased by 16%. The survey also found that Japanese students are unwilling to go on to graduate school, with foreign students accounting for more than half of the Master’s Degree students at the University of Tokyo. This is despite the fact that the percentage of students going on to University has been consistently increasing.

The reason behind this is the difference in the quality of human resources sought by companies. The world has entered a society of highly educated people who make the most of their expertise, and an increasing number of companies require a Doctorate or Master’s Degree to enter the workforce. In Japan, however, communication skills are more important than expertise. They give more importance to the personality rather than University Grades. In addition, the difference in salary after entering a company is extremely small.

For example, in the U.S., the average annual salary for a Master’s Degree is 1.4 times than an undergraduate degree and 1.68 times than a Doctoral Degree, whereas in Japan both Master’s and Doctoral degrees are 1.25 times than an undergraduate degree. The average annual salary for an undergraduate degree is 4.2 million yen, so even with a doctoral degree; you can earn only 5.3 million yen.

Even if you stay at the University, you will have no choice but to become a post-doctoral fellow or a non-regular employee. Under such circumstances, there is no way they would go to the trouble of paying high tuition fees to go to graduate school in Japan, Is there?

If they do this, they will be left further and further behind in the world. It is a shame.

Whenever such problems are reported, people always say.

 “That’s why seniority-based wages are bad and lifetime employment is bad! But that is the problem in the first place?” No, it is not.

The problem is that Universities, which are the Academic institutions, have become job placement prep schools and more specifically, the problem is that companies mistakenly think that “easy-to-use human resources” = “excellent human resources”.

The Keidanren’s annual “New Graduate Recruitment Survey” of its member companies shows that in 2001, “Integrity”, “Cooperativeness,” “Initiative”, “Spirit of Challenge” and “Communication Skills” were all given about the same importance when hiring.

Since 2005, however, “Spirit of Challenge” has been on a downward trend, while “Communication Skills” has jumped to the top of the list.

I believe that the trigger for this trend was the “basic skills for working adults” proposed by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in its interim report on the “Study Group on Basic Skills for Working Adults” in February 2006.

This study group discussed the abilities that we want people to acquire before entering the workforce. In the past, it was believed that the abilities needed to be active in the workplace and in the community would be acquired naturally in the process of growing up. However, with the growth of the family and the weakening of community ties, it has become increasingly difficult to acquire these abilities in Japanese society, and we have attempted to apply them to career education at universities by defining “basic skills for working adults.

Basic Skills for Adult Workers

  • Ability to build relationships with others (e.g., communication skills, cooperativeness, ability to approach others, etc.)
  • Ability to find and overcome problems (e.g., ability to find problems, ability to do things, creativity, spirit of challenge)
  • Ability to control oneself (e.g., sense of responsibility, proactivity, flexibility)

I believe that these three abilities are the basic skills for working adults.

Again, these basic skills are guidelines for career education.

However, they have come to be used by companies as a “yardstick” to measure whether a person is a good candidate or not when they are hiring. The recruitment process in Japan continues to be a “Galapagos” one, in which the goodness or badness of a person is measured by his or her “communication skills,” a very flexible ability, and academic performance or expertise is not taken into consideration. When exchanging business cards overseas, you will usually find a “Ph.D.,” which stands for Doctor of Philosophy.