Business

Japan’s top science students are pursuing ice cream over tech

In an unusual twist, Japan’s top science students are applying to make ice cream and yogurt rather than work for tech companies such as Sony, Panasonic, and Sharp.

A report from Bloomberg indicates that two of the three most popular companies for science students applying for jobs in 2013 are makers of food products.

The top company on the list is Meiji, a supplier of ice cream and other diary products, pharmaceuticals, and agricultural chemicals. Number two on the list is Toshiba, a tech company that produces TVs and computers. Number three on the list is Kagome, a company that makes culinary sauces and condiments for restaurants. Sony, once at the top of the list, is now fourth.

During the past decade, Japan’s electronics titans like Sony and Sharp have been taken down a few notches due to increasing competition from Apple, Samsung, LG, and other non-Japanese tech companies.

“Japan’s top manufacturers are being replaced by food makers in the rankings because the food business is considered stable,” Takuya Kurita, a researcher at Tokyo-based Mynavi, told Bloomberg. “[Science students] care about building a career at a stable company where they can work as researcher for a long time.”

With more Japanese students preferring food over tech, this could hurt Japan’s increasing flailing tech stature even more versus other Asian countries.

“The gap between Japanese companies and Samsung, LG, and Chinese or Taiwanese competitors may only widen if the Japanese can’t hire excellent young talent,” Yoshihisa Toyosaki, an analyst at Architect Grand Design, told Bloomberg. “New products can only be born from new brains.”

It certainly doesn’t help that Sony, Panasonic, and Sharp aren’t hiring like they used to. In the late spring, Panasonic plans to hire 350 university grads, Sony plans to give 180 jobs, and Sharp will hire 130.

By comparison, Samsung plans to hire 9,000 university graduates in the next year.

Ice cream via Kim Woodbridge/Flickr


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