Message from the President Jul.2008

a monthly magazine for our employee Jul.2008

The Significance of the Bridge Engineer Business

On June 6 (Friday), “World Business Satellite,” a TV Tokyo program, featured the Meitec Group’s bridge engineer business as an example of “pioneering efforts in the Japanese labor market, where shortages of workers and engineers are emerging.” I received a request for an interview only one day before the program was aired. Right after the interview took place, it went on the air, so there wasn’t enough time to let all of you know about it. But I was glad to hear from quite a few employees that they’d caught the program.

It’s said that when you’re interviewed by the mass media you should keep in mind two things: “information isn’t necessarily communicated accurately” and “viewers and readers tend to accept information as fact--even if it’s not--when the print or image media report it.” In the case of TV in particular, the production side aims to capture good ratings by presenting high-impact information within a severely limited time frame?just tens of seconds. This can lead to a risk that essential information will be omitted or that only information/scenes with high appeal to viewers will be reported. Notwithstanding these limitations, I think the program on the whole managed to convey accurately within the allocated time the message that Meitec wishes to send to society. The message we want to communicate regarding the significance of the bridge engineer business consists of two points: (1) Meitec is becoming a global strategy partner for its clients, and (2) we view foreign employees as a workforce just like the Japanese one and don’t discriminate between them.

Regarding the first point, Meitec’s global strategy is to keep in step with the strategies of Japan’s leading manufacturers who are our clients. Today, almost all major Japanese manufacturers operate production and development bases in China. And they’re experiencing difficulty recruiting skilled engineers locally or retaining them even after recruitment is successful. In addition, because these manufacturers are forced to shift a certain number of their domestic engineers abroad for overseas operations, they find themselves facing a shortage of engineers in Japan as well. In other words, a situation has arisen where manufacturers executing global strategies suffer increasingly from an engineer shortage both in Japan and abroad, where they operate. Accordingly, Meitec has embarked on a business that meets both their domestic and overseas needs by making full use of Chinese engineers.

This business is the bridge engineer business. It complements the number of engineers required in Japan1 by dispatching Chinese engineers, while at the same time satisfying the local needs of China by introducing half of the personnel who’ve completed the course at Meitec’s base for training Chinese engineers to jobs at Japanese manufacturers operating in China. In addition, we’ve set a goal on a medium- and long-term basis of getting Chinese engineers we’ve dispatched inside Japan hired by our client companies as permanent employees, with the hope that they’ll serve as key personnel leading the global strategy of the client companies. That’s why we devised the term “bridge engineers.” In other words, the Meitec Group isn’t seeking to boost the number of Chinese engineers just because Japan’s domestic labor market is suffering from a shortage of engineers. Rather, the Group’s working to strengthen the relationship of mutual trust it has built with clients, by assuming the role of a global strategy partner for its client companies. Although the TV program didn’t explore this topic as deeply as I’ve just explained it here, I believe it succeeded at least in conveying the message that the Meitec Group doesn’t operate the bridge engineer business from a short-term perspective, in response to the tight labor market in Japan.

As for the second point Meitec wishes to communicate, I think the concept behind it?viewing foreign employees as a workforce just like the Japanese one and not discriminating between them?represents a message with a greater “sociality,” or social value. The reason the Meitec Group treats bridge engineers and Japanese employees equally is that we aim to attract talented personnel over the long term by making young Chinese people see the advantages of Meitec. We’re prompted by the recognition that as the overall number of Japanese workers starts to shrink, it becomes impossible to maintain the total productive capacity of Japan unless we rely on the foreign workforce on a basis equal to Japanese workers, instead of treating them merely as a supplement.

With regard to the way people overseas view Japan, helping them understand that “Japanese treat workers fairly regardless of nationality, race or sex”?rather than “Japanese are inclined to take advantage of foreign workers as inexpensive labor”?supports the true global strategy of Japanese companies. In addition, I think that our embracing the sense of values I’ve described helps generate pride among all the employees of the Meitec Group. In this sense, the bridge engineer business plays a vital part in Meitec’s Real Global Vision 21.

July, 2008