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Technical Intern Training Program Results Report

Case 3: Leaving with a Good Image of Japan (The Shizuoka Human Resources Development Cooperative, Shizuoka)

The Yui district, portrayed by Hiroshige Utagawa in his world renowned edo-style Japanese prints entitled 'the Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido', was developed as one of the popular stop-over towns in Shizuoka between Edo and Kyoto. JITCO visited the Shizuoka Human Resources Development Cooperative (SHRDC) located in this famous district in Shimizu Ward, Shizuoka City. The following stories illustrate SHRDC's active efforts and successful results in the Technical Internship Program.

President Keita Inaba

President Keita Inaba

After suffering the second worst depopulation rate in the nation, the Yui district has been trying to improve the city's appeal by building facilities, such as a museum, so more people would be attracted to the area. The Yui Chamber of Commerce got to know the Industrial Training and Technical Internship Program, and began accepting trainees. Later, the Seian Human Resources Development Cooperative was founded in 2001 as an accepting organization. The organization has been renamed as the Shizuoka Human Resources Development Cooperative.

Since the start of accepting trainees in 2002, SHRDC has accepted 215 Chinese trainees and technical interns at 16 affiliated companies in both heated- and non-heated-processed seafood product manufacturing, can sealing, and fish paste making. Currently, SHRDC oversees 101 trainees at 15 companies.

While some companies doesn't use the training program, being concerned that overseas competitors may copy advanced technologies of Japan, the companies affiliated with SHRDC have always positively accepted international trainees.

SHRDC especially encourages companies that are accepting trainees in the category of can sealing to get certified as specialists, the examination for which is classified as an advanced-grade skills test in JITCO's skills evaluation system. Technical interns from affiliated companies, Komagoe Shokuhin Co. Ltd. and Inaba Shokuhin Co. Ltd., have been taking the test every year, with many of them passing. The number of interns who passed the test is shown in the chart below.

JITCO provides prize money for encouragement to those who pass advanced-grade tests.

Number of People
Komagoe Shokuhin
Inaba Shokuhin

The Number of Interns who passed the Test of Specialist Grade

Can sealing became approved in 1994 as one of the work category applicable for the Technical Internship Program. The Japan Canners Association (JCA) is the official administrator of the examination.

At first, only the examination for elementary grade was available. The examination for intermediate and specialist grade were added in 2002. By 2008, 102 technical interns passed the advanced grade test and have engaged in their carrer.

Can sealing is a key technology in canned food production. The certification test in this field is administered by JCA, called the Canned Production Technicians Certification Test, which is widely known and utilized in the industry. The examination is held every year to expand the talent pool and also to re-educate professionals working in the field.

There are three categories in this certification system: can sealing supervisor; quality control supervisor; and, sterilization control supervisor. Under the can sealing supervisor category, the evaluation program for technical interns of can sealing.

Vacuum sealing is a skill required to perform in the test. It enables longer product life by shutting out air or microbes thus minimizing any quality changes or decay.

Taking the Specialist Test: An Applicant with a Semi-Automatic Double Seamer

Taking the Specialist Test:
An Applicant with a Semi-Automatic Double Seamer

Enlarged Sectional View of Double Sealing

Enlarged Sectional View
of Double Sealing

A semi-automatic double seamer is used to perform vacuum sealing. The metal body and lid must be bent precisely in order to lock the opening. Bending strong materials and correctly placing lids require a lot of power, and it is impossible to do it all at once. Sealing is done using two different procedures. The lock consisnts from two layers, thus the equipment is called a double seamer.
The metal locks cannot create air-proof seal, so a rubber sealing compound must be applied, and this is attached to the lid before being applied to the body.

In order to perform all these tasks smoothly and make perfectly sealed cans, the equipment must be adjusted manually. The performance examination requires the machine adjustment sequence, can sealing skills, and a full knowledge of product inspection procedures.

SHRDC President Keita Inaba says, "Advanced-grade examination functions as a breather in training and technical internship, invigorates the training, and helps reiterate the purpose of the Technical Internship Program."

Administrative Manager Matsunaga and Ms. Hagino

Administrative Manager Matsunaga and Ms. Hagino

The organization intends to support trainees preparing for the advanced-grade test through: (1) conducting thoroughly organized Japanese education program with qualified Japanese instructors and integrated study materials. (2) providing accurate and timely instruction and feedback so technical interns' skills continue to improve; and, (3)incorporating skills training for the advanced-grade test into the internship curriculum.

SHRDC explains to affiliate companies the following advantages of advanced-grade certification: (1) technical interns, once certified, become more engaged in their internship activities and take active roles in helping their juniors; (2) test preparation gives an opportunity for companies to reevaluate the training curriculum; and (3) By working toward the same goal with other affiliated companies, the effort improves the overall performance level of the entire cooperative.

 At a Party

At a Party

Hiroyasu Sonehara from the technical department of JCA, the test administrator for the can sealing test, explains, "We send sample written tests and the procedural list of the performance test to accepting companies as soon as they contact us. We also answer questions and clarify points in the test. We hope that companies with technical interns utilize this test to fully enhance their learning experiences as technical interns to acquire the skills and techniques that are only obtainable in Japan.

Lastly, being asked about SHRDC's vision, Mr. Inaba answered firmly, "The Training and Technical Internship Program is a system to provide comprehensive education and training. By accepting trainees through this program, employees at affiliate companies also develop motivation. That is what makes this endeavor meaningful. Our sense of achievement comes from trainees feeling, 'Japan is a wonderful country', and, 'I am glad I came here'. The cooperative's ultimate purpose is to have all trainees go home with better impression of Japan."

SHRDC will require the affiliated companies newly accepting trainees of can sealing to incorporate advanced-grade certification into their curriculums. With more emphasis in advanced-grade test taking, I can imagine trainees going home confidently with these advanced skills and techniques.