Internship programs are fairly common in the United States. In Japan some foreign-capital companies and venture companies also have introduced such programs. In 1997 several major firms --- such as Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., Asahi Chemical Industry Co., Ltd., and Daiei Inc.--- have begun to introduce internship programs. Although the companies which have such programs have not involved a large number of participants' interest in the concept is rapidly growing in Japan, and a tripartite relationship between businesses, students and universities is emerging. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Labour, and Ministry of International Trade and Industry are taking the issue of the internship program in an extremely active manner and are inaugurating a variety of study groups and committees to examine the potential of such programs.
The internship program is a system under which students can gain workplace experience relating to their own fields of study or to future career paths while still in schools. It is useful for companies to gain wider access to students in order to communicate better with them. It is also useful for students to earn about the corporation's need for a diverse kinds of workers. Unlike at Japan's large companies, recruitment activity at venture companies, allows the employer and the students to discuss freely their needs and ideas. Furthermore, it is expected that an understanding of how companies work will be greatly enhanced when students discuss matters among themselves. Companies are now looking for the best way to structure these programs.
For the students, the internship program allows them to experience how companies really function, while at the same time acquiring useful skills on the job. Many are now aware that entering a large company does not necessarily guarantee their economic stability later in life. But the program has not necessarily received favorable support from students in all areas, and there are cases in which the program fails to differentiate between student arubaito (casual employment) and the student intern experience. While companies expect the internship program to enhance the quality of education by combining theory and practice, to cope properly with the decline in the number 18 years olds in the population in the years ahead, colleges and universities intend to regard programs like the internship program as means of luring students. Moreover, having a good relationship with companies is vital to introducing such programs, and colleges and universities are pushing ahead with programs although their efforts to tackle the issue are varied.
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