Japan has recently made it an official government mandate to increase the number of foreign students studying abroad in Japan. You may know that the Olympics are coming to Tokyo in 2020. Due to that, there’s an urgency for companies to increase the number of foreign employees in an attempt to be more competitive in a globalized environment and to show the world how international Japan is becoming. This might be the best chance for you to study abroad in Japan, to your skills to further your career!
In this article, we’ll cover some reasons why we think this is the best time to study abroad in Japan. Our GaijinPot Student Placement Program is also available to give you individual advice. If you have any questions about how studying abroad can be good for your situation, feel free to send us an inquiry.
Why study abroad at a language school?
Although it’s possible to come to Japan through a student exchange program with a connected university or just come on a working visa directly, starting out at a Japanese language school has several advantages.
First off, you can get a student visa right away! Most university programs may require you to have a connection with a host university. Therefore, it may not be an available option to those who are not currently studying in higher education. If you study at a language school, there are very few conditions to fulfill. It’s definitely the easiest way to come to Japan.
Starting out on a student visa at a language school is also a great way to experience life in Japan without too many responsibilities. Since you are only in class for half the day, you can spend your free time doing what you want — either enjoying the country or working part-time. It’ll give you time to see if you like living in the country. It can also give you ideas on what you might want to do in the future. You’ll get the time to fully research the future paths you are interested in. You can also network and build connections while studying here.
Of course, improving your Japanese language skills is the big benefit. If you plan to pursue higher education in Japan, having real-world Japanese ability will give you an advantage in terms of admissions and scholarships. If you plan to work in Japan, a high level of Japanese is essential in almost all industries.
According to the 2015 survey “Career and Retention for International Students” by the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI), 75 percent of Japanese companies polled considered Japanese language skills to be one of the most important factors when hiring foreign staff. The better your Japanese, the more job opportunities you’ll have!
Of course, it’s also possible to just come and experience life in Japan, to enjoy the culture and travel around the country while taking advantage of living in a convenient and fun city. It’s very easy to travel around Japan and the GaijinPot Travel section has some great travel destinations.
Why go to higher education in Japan?
There are plenty of reasons to come study in Japan.
No matter what kind of school you decide to attend, you can be sure that one of the main reasons for going to university is to find suitable employment after graduation. Many schools in Japan have strong connections with Japanese companies. The vast majority of students graduate with a job already lined up. You can find the actual job placement numbers and the type of jobs that graduates find on the school websites or by asking them.
One important point is that many higher learning institutes in Japan are actively trying to increase the number of foreign students. They’re offering them scholarships and making their path to admissions much easier. The universities still have entry requirements, but many times these requirements relate to attendance at the language school and overall language ability. If you study at a language school and can get your Japanese to a suitable level, it’s possible to have Japanese universities contacting you with scholarship offers.
In addition, national universities have much lower tuition fees than in other countries. Even private university tuition can be cheaper, especially if you can receive scholarships.
By going to a language school first, you can properly research universities in the country. You can visit the them and talk with admissions. The teachers in your school can also work with you! They can develop a plan that will maximize your chances of being accepted and show you how to take advantage of any scholarship programs.
Why work in Japan?
Recently, there has been an increasing demand for foreigners working in Japanese companies as Japan tries to become more international. Japanese companies are starting to realize that they have to consider the global market and develop new ways of thinking.
Since the English (or other second language) ability of most Japanese people is not sufficient for business purposes, many companies are turning towards bilingual foreigners who can speak Japanese. It’s hard to say how effective their efforts are in terms of actually changing company culture. Still, one thing is for sure: this is one of the best times for a foreigner with Japanese ability to be job hunting in Japan!
According to that 2015 METI “Career and Retention” survey, the main reason that Japanese companies hire foreigners is to stimulate the workplace by increasing diversity within the company. In fact, the lowest reason given to hire a foreigner was that they could not find enough Japanese employees. Indeed, in Japan, being a foreigner in a Japanese company is a big deal. Right now, they’re hiring people just to present an image of the company being more international.
Nobody knows what will happen after the Olympics, but this might be the best time to look for work in Japan in terms of job opportunities.
Other strong reasons for hiring foreigners are to expand overseas business in general — and especially business in the country of the foreign workers. Japanese companies have offices all over the world. Just survey your surroundings and see how many Japanese products you see everyday: cars, electronics, food, games, etc. All of those companies have offices in your country. There are also newer businesses that are trying hard to expand in foreign markets. Particularly in sectors such as fashion, internet commerce and smartphone software development. If you know Japanese and have some experience living and working in Japan, you’ll have plenty of opportunities in your country — or any country in the world! Whether you get transferred from the Japanese offices or you just apply directly at home, you’ll be at the front of the queue when it comes to getting the interview if your resume has experience in Japan.
In the end, much of it comes down to Japanese ability. As mentioned, most companies train the employees at the entry level. They often do not care too much about your previous experience or what you studied in university. They just want someone that they can communicate with and that they see potential in. Studying at a language school is the best way to get those language skills for your career. Having experience living in the country and working a part-time job will also give you a more well-rounded resume. It’ll show that you have what it takes to work in Japan.
Studying Japanese in Japan is a great way to get into the country. You can experience life here and prepare for your next step. Even people who may not know exactly what they want to do in the future may find their interest in the country being the first step leading to a real career. No matter what your reasons are for studying Japanese, we at the GaijinPot Student Placement Program can help show you the way to become a Japanese professional!