Vol.34-No.02 February 1,1995
The survey on the realities of private-sector education and training programs, which has been taken annually since 1979, covers establishment with 30 and more employees as well as their workers in construction, manufacturing, transportation and communications, wholesale and retail trade, eating and drinking places, finance and insurance, real estate and services. The February 1994 survey covered about 4,000 establishments and their 12,000 employees and the related education and training programs for white-collar workers as well as worker self-enhancement activities currently underway.
In the survey, the Ministry found the following three major facts. First, employers are currently implementing OFF-JT to develop the vocational ability of white-collar workers but plan to increasingly recognize the importance of on-the-job training (OJT) in future years. Second, the highest percentage of employees see gaining sophisticated expertise in professional fields as the future objective of OFF-JT for white-collar workers, excluding newly hired ones. And third, slightly less than 50 percent of employers have introduced a system to evaluate vocational ability of white-collar workers.
In the survey covering 12,000 employees, the Ministry found two major facts. First, the largest percentage of employees regard the objective of undergoing OFF-JT as "responding adequately to sophisticated job content." Second, the highest percent expect the company to financially support them in self-enhancement efforts. Meanwhile, many called for provision of information on self-enhancement activities and are concerned about the time necessary to undergo educational training programs.
In 1993, 54.1 percent of white-collar workers underwent self-enhancement activity support programs. Many of them "took a correspondence course," "received education on TV and over the radio or through professional books" and "attended study sessions sponsored by the company."
The company will intiate the system at its production division of home-use air conditioning, where workers will put in 9 hours a day in the spring-to-summer period and will clock 8 hours during the fall-to-winter period. By adopting the system, the corporation intends to supply workers within a given framework both in the active and the inactive period without vastly changing the size of the work force.
Under the variable working hours system, companies had to hold scheduled weekly working hours to within 40 with an avarage maximum variable period of three months. However, revision in April 1994 of the Labour Standards Law (LSL) allowed the variable period to be extended to one year, enabling home electronics and food products industries, in which the length of working hours changes from season to season, to easily introduce such plans.
Daikin has adopted the new working hours scheme at its plant in Shiga prefecture, the main home-use air conditioning factory, and its related divisions, with about 540 employees benefitting from the system. In April 1994, the company extended scheduled working hours by one hour on an experimental basis and found that overtime for regular employees decreased during the peak summer period and also that the number of temporary contract workers dropped. As a result, the company set scheduled daily working hours at 9 hours with the February-July period as the active period, to make the new system take firm root. During the inactive months from August to January, workers will clock 8 hours a day as before. They take a two consecutive-week-long vacation twice a year to hold their annual scheduled hours to within statutory limit. Production of home-use air conditioning varies greatly from season. In the peak summer months, production volume nearly doubles that of the inactive months. Daikin coped with this by recruiting temporary contract workers and having regular employees work overtime. But rising labor costs these days have prompted the firm to introduce a system which responds properly to seasonal changes between active and inactive months.
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