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Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2000

More pros than cons in 'temp-to-perm'

Adecco exec sees deregulation, lifestyle shifts reshaping the hiring system


Staff writer

With deregulation expanding business opportunities, Adecco Career Staff Ltd., a leading manpower supplier, foresees a bright future for its operations in Japan, President Tohru Omoi said.

Following drastic deregulatory steps a year ago, the government will lift a ban on so-called temp-to-perm services, starting Friday.

While acknowledging certain negative aspects, Omoi said in an interview that he foresees "more advantages" in the changes.

Under the temp-to-perm system, which is already common in the United States and Europe, a manpower supplier sends registered staffers on the premise that its client firms keep them on as permanent employees when their temporary contracts end. Staff service agencies earn a commission for successfully filling employment positions.

Omoi acknowledged the risk of losing some of the employment agency's good staffers through this system. However, he said, "I believe the number of people registering with us will increase because the possibility of eventually securing full-time work is out there."

And Adecco Career Staff, a leading manpower firm created by an August 1999 merger between Adecco Japan Ltd. and Career Staff Ltd., is ready to meet the increased demand for the services through its 80 or so branches across Japan, he said.

Temp-to-perm services are not entirely new for Adecco Career Staff. The firm has provided identical services in sending new graduates to its client firms for two years, the only difference being that it has been doing so without charging extra.

Omoi said that his firm began such services to help college graduates secure jobs, adding that the agency gives basic job training before sending them out as temp staffers. Roughly 70 percent of new graduates who went through Adecco Career Staff have found permanent positions, he added.

Indeed, in the face of the ongoing severe employment situation, the government counts on the temp-to-perm system to help job-seekers -- college graduates and people who lost their jobs due to corporate restructuring -- land permanent positions.

The upcoming change, which recognizes temp-to-perm services as a fee-chargeable business, comes on the heels of major deregulatory steps last December that have drastically widened the scope of the temp staff-dispatching business.

Simply put, all job fields but a few, including construction, are now open to temp staffers, whereas only 26 job categories, including secretarial work and tour conducting, were open before Dec. 1, 1999.

"Last year's deregulation enabled us to provide more services to our clients," Omoi said. "And more firms began to consider accepting temp staff in business areas in which they have never done before."

Omoi said the demand for temp staffers has been especially strong in sales and telephone marketing.

These two areas together accounted for roughly 30 percent of Adecco Career Staff's 75 billion yen in sales last year, he said, predicting the level will rise to as high as 50 percent within five years.

The ongoing modest recovery of the economy is also boosting demand for temp staffers, he added.

"Temporary workers only make up about 0.5 percent of the entire working population, but even a small recovery in the entire employment situation can influence us in a big way," he said.

Adecco Japan Ltd. and Career Staff Ltd. had seen a 10 percent year-on-year increase in their combined sales before their August 1999 merger. That steady increase has since continued, Omoi said, noting his firm saw a hefty 33 percent in monthly sales in October over a year earlier.

Omoi said that more people in this society, where the temporary staff-supplying business has been around only 15 years, have begun to see working as temporary staffers in a positive light.

"I think more people have come to recognize being a temporary staffer as a convenient working style, which allows them to adjust their work according to their life plan," Omoi said. "And to some people who eventually want to work full-time, working as a temp is a chance to try out different jobs before obtaining a permanent position."



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The Japan Times

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