The Ultimate Optical Fiber
Breaking with Convention
Japan's Basic Industry
Today's Master Craftspeople
Skill of Master Craftspeople Underpins State-of-the-Art Technology
Training Skilled Workers
Having Trainees Craft Products Synonymous with Training Skilled People
|Having Trainees Craft Products Synonymous with Training Skilled People|
|Another feature of the school is that the curriculum incorporates participation in the National Skills Competition. Every year, all the students enter the Chiba Prefecture preliminaries of the National Skills Competition, a competition for skilled workers aged 22 or younger in various categories. School Training Manager Katsuo Akiba believes students skill levels improve exponentially in the competition season because of how they strive to do well in the preliminaries.
Those who excel in the preliminaries advance to the national Skills competition the following year, and those successful in the nationals can participate in the World Skills Competition held every two years. A school graduate came sixth in the World Skills Competition in Montreal, Canada in 1999, underscoring the superior standard of training.
Students who gain a minimum of 60 points at the preliminaries and pass the school exams gain a national vocational qualification (nikyu ginoshisomething like a journeymans qualification). Most of our graduates have attained the qualification in the past few years. After the students return to their companies, it takes a further five years or so on the job before they are fully qualified and experienced. Fostering highly skilled woodworkers able to build Sumitomo Forestry houses obviously takes many years, and indeed our aim is to train workers to a superior standard. After all, the basics are important for building houses as well as training workers, says Marugasa.
Founding the school and training woodworkers in this way will not have an immediate effect on Sumitomo Forestrys housing business. Education is forward investment for the long term; the company is confident that the time and effort spent on this basic preparatory work is bound to reap dividends later on. Although the bubble economy collapsed, Japan slid into recession, and the predicted labor shortage did not materialize, there have been no calls within the company to scale back or close down the school.
The company has a firm belief that getting students involved in the process of actually crafting products is synonymous with training workersthat is, that the foundation of its manufacturing business lies in the preparation of each worker as an all-round human resource, fostering not only know-how and skill, but also a sense of responsibility for and commitment to ones work as well as all-around self-improvement.
From the earliest days of Japanese manufacturing to the present, many skilled workers and engineers who trained in this tradition are making a diverse range of products, using their own ideas and creativity for constant improvement. This lies at the heart of Japans manufacturing prowessit is the real driving force behind the Made in Japan miracle.
|(Data collected July 2003)|