Home > Activities of technical intern trainees > Technical Intern Training Program Results Report 2008
Technical Intern Training Program Results Report

Case 7: "Step Up Standards" as Roadmap
(Nitto Tekko Co. Ltd., Hanyu, Saitama)

Administrative Director Kenji Sugii

Administrative Director Kenji Sugii

"Nitto Tekko has set specific standards for trainees and technical interns to study These standards help facilitate effective training," Administrative Director Kenji Sugii says of the original achievement guideline. Nitto Tekko's set of standards is called Step Up Standards, which consists of two separate categories: skills required in training and technical internship; and, Japanese language skills. Both the technical skills and Japanese skills are the 'two wheels of a cart', and neither should be missed in order to deliver a satisfactory result from training. We felt these standards must be the distinctive keys to success of the company's training.

Nitto Tekko Co. Ltd., founded in 1957, manufactures steel beams for commercial buildings, schools and houses. Products of high precision and quality are manufactured at the Hanyu factory built in 1992.

Nitto Tekko Co. Ltd.

Nitto Tekko Co. Ltd.

We visited Nitto Tekko's Hanyu factory on a sunny day in December. Also joining the visit were Executive Director Eiichi Yamaguchi and Administrative Management Section Staff Nami Watanabe from the Japan-China Exchange Association for Industrial Technology (JEAI), the primary accepting organization for the company. The Hanyu factory had a prestigious atmosphere, surrounded with refreshing white walls and a wide landscape. As we entered the premises, President Mayumi Saito came out to greet us, and lead us inside.

President Mayumi Saito

President Mayumi Saito

Nitto Tekko began accepting trainees in 1983, prior to the establishment of the Technical Internship Program. The company has continued accepting one or two trainees, sometimes three, to whom the company are interested in not only teaching welding skills, but also showing the reality of Japan. In the past, trainees would return home after a year of training; however, after the establishment of the Technical Internship Program in 2001, the company accepts trainees who intend to continue through the technical internship. Currently, two trainees and five technical interns are with the company.

Nitto Tekko incorporates the above-mentioned Step Up Standards to instruct trainees in higher levels of proficiency, but these standards are not easy for trainees by any means. Trainees, however, receive awards once they reach their goals, and JEAI provides cash rewards to trainees who pass examinations. On the day of our visit, Ms. Watanabe from JEAI handed cash rewards to technical interns who passed a test that was certified as intermediate in JITCO's skills evaluation system. We witnessed trainees working hard to achieve their goals, and enjoying their success.

At interviews in their home country, candidates are first informed of the details of the Step Up Standards, and once more on their first day at work. "Senior peers also attend the explanatory session to confirm the standards with new trainees," Mr. Sugii explains.

Factory Manager Kazuhiko Ito Explaining Welding Techniques

Factory Manager Kazuhiko Ito Explaining Welding Techniques

The specific details include: The elementary grade on a JITCO-certified test for skills evaluation, which is also a requirement for transferring to the technical internship program; Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS) Welding Specialist Certification in heavy plate down hand welding or the intermediate grade on a JITCO-certified test; and, the Level 2 on the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) or 600 points or above on the J-Test of Practical Japanese.

Trainees are required to meet the standards, in both technical and language skills components.

"These standards become available from our 10 years of accumulated experiences in accepting trainees," Mr. Sugii explains. Factory Manager Kazuhiko Ito adds, "The technical elements are the foundation in welding, so we cannot teach anything if trainees have not mastered these skills. Also, language skills are crucial for safety purposes".

Technical Intern at Work

Technical Intern at Work

Trainees make steel beam products in the factory, where we found a variety of large equipment and serious atmosphere; heavy steel beams were lined up as blue sparkles flew. Mr. Ito says, "the daily accumulation of work experience becomes preparation for the test. Instructors show the procedures first, then let trainees try. Particularly in welding skills, building processes and welding spots are important points that we spend a lot of time on."

President Saito with Intern Wang Jian An During Ultrasound Testing

President Saito with Intern Wang Jian An During Ultrasound Testing

As part of test preparation, ultrasound is used to inspect the work done by trainees, which shows any deficiency inside the welded products. Ms. Saito, a nondestructive testing specialist in ultrasound flaw detection, comes to the factory frequently between her busy work commitments as President. "It actually is a great experience for me to teach young trainees our advanced techniques in welding," she says, sharing her joy of teaching.

Nitto Tekko has established standards backed by experience in order to improve trainees' motivation and to maximize their abilities.

The Step Up Standards provide trainees with a sense of purpose, and help them plan ahead for the future, teaching them to live positively and proactively.

Saying 'Cheese!' with the Eligibility Certificates

Saying 'Cheese!' with the Eligibility Certificates

The trainees' level of proficiency proves the effectiveness of the standards. Wang Jian An has cleared two requirements so far. "It was rewarding to see all the effort paid off," he comments. Asked about advice for younger trainees, "My dream is to study and try out as many things as I can while in Japan. I believe that dreams are not just to have; dreams are to make come true," Mr. Wang answers with conviction. Ma Hai Feng says, in fluent Japanese, "I took the tests as an opportunity, and by studying for them my skills have improved".

Mr. Yamaguchi of JEAI regards the efforts by Nitto Tekko highly. He plans to share the benefits of the Step Up Standards with affiliate members of the organization.