Japanese prefecture focuses on Vietnam to solve labor shortages

Severe labor shortages are taking a toll on Japan's economy.

But Shiga prefecture in the western part of the country has found a solution.

The prefectural government and local businesses are actively recruiting workers from overseas, with a special focus on university students in rapidly growing Vietnam.

Vietnamese engineer succeeds in Shiga

Nguyen Viet Cuong (right) works for a manufacturing company in Shiga prefecture.

Nguyen Viet Cuong moved to Japan from Vietnam last August after being hired by a parts and materials company in Shiga prefecture.

He's currently in charge of the design and manufacturing process for a top product at the company, but also is a candidate for an executive position.

He says it was his dream to live and work in Japan.

He adds that he wants to return to Vietnam someday with his knowledge and experience so he can contribute to the economic development of both countries.

Why Shingoshu turned to Vietnam

Shingoshu Co., Ltd. has seen its number of Japanese applicants fall by about 80 percent over the past decade.

Its solution to the staffing shortage was to create a comfortable working environment for workers from overseas.

The company began hiring and training Vietnamese to become future managers in 2017. They've since hired more than 10 people.

It established a local subsidiary in Vietnam in 2018.

Facing a dearth of Japanese applicants, Shingoshu President Mori Kazuyuki decided to hire talented Vietnamese nationals.

Shingoshu President Mori Kazuyuki says Vietnam is currently the best place to recruit workers who can play a central role in the company.

According to the company, young and ambitious Vietnamese place importance on being able to actively utilize their expertise. So they're attracted to smaller firms that offer such opportunities.

Prefectural government backs local businesses

The Shiga prefectural government offers local manufacturing companies critical labor support.

In 2021, the prefectural government and Hanoi University of Science and Technology launched a partnership to help provide companies in Shiga with talented workers. The university is Vietnam's biggest technical school and has a large student body engaged in wide-ranging fields of study.

As part of this effort, they began Japanese language classes at the university.

Vietnamese students study Japanese at Hanoi University of Science and Technology.

This past summer, 11 Vietnamese students came to Japan to do corporate internships. Two of them visited a manufacturer to observe the production process for steel parts used in shipping and construction heavy equipment.

Interns visit a steel parts manufacturer in Shiga.

One of the interns said it was a good chance to meet new people and see how they work.

Mori Yasuhiro works for the Shiga Prefectural Govt. Labor and Employment Policy Division, which manages a partnership with Hanoi University of Science and Technology.

Mori Yasuhiro works in the Shiga Prefectural Govt. Labor and Employment Policy Division. He says a steady flow of graduates from the university in Hanoi will make it easier for local companies to hire Vietnamese.

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