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Private Sector-Led Cooperation in Industrial Human Resource Development: The Case of the Association for Overseas Technical Cooperation and Sustainable Partnerships (AOTS)

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Japan’s International Cooperation in Education

Abstract

This chapter focuses on the Association for Overseas Technical Cooperation and Sustainable Partnerships (AOTS), which has carried out training projects through public-private partnerships to meet the human resource development needs of private businesses investing overseas. This chapter compares AOTS with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). As discussed in Chap. 7, JICA has implemented ODA projects from the standpoint of diplomacy and international cooperation. In contrast, AOTS has supported the private sector in terms of investment and trade promotion. While JICA’s support has been affected by domestic and international socioeconomic and policy factors, AOTS has given the highest priority to private business needs and supported the gradual overseas expansion of Japanese companies by cultivating and supplying much-needed skilled workforces in developing countries. JICA has aimed to improve overall technological and industrial capacities in developing countries. On the other hand, AOTS has taken on the role of handing down practical technologies directly related to specialized fields required for the operations of Japanese enterprises that have advanced into overseas markets. The number of new intakes into AOTS training programs has decreased in recent years, but such trainee networks now extend globally. Therefore, AOTS Alumni Societies (AASs) in various countries create bridges between Japanese and local businesses for local human resource development and work together to develop new training programs.

The organization name “Association for Overseas Technical Cooperation and Sustainable Partnerships (AOTS)” has been used since 2017, but formerly, the organization was called “Association for Overseas Technical Scholarship,” using the same abbreviation.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    There are three General Orientation Courses: 9-day, 6-week, and 13-week courses. They are followed by Specialized Technical Training, whose period varies greatly depending on host businesses, ranging from 1 month to 1 year.

  2. 2.

    Even before the formal start of the Management Training Programs in 1977, there were other ad hoc programs with similar objectives. For example, there were three courses commissioned by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in 1968: the Production Management Training Course (PMTC), the Training Course in the Development of Industrial Exports (UNEX), and the Program for Quality Management (PQM). There were also four courses commissioned by the Asian Productivity Organization (APO) in 1974: the Industrial and Systems Engineering Training Course (ISE), the Training Course on Systematic Problem Solving for Production Management (SYPS), the Training Course on Tools for Managerial Decision-Making (MDM), and the Training Course on Production Management Information Systems (PROMIS) (AOTS gaishi hensyu iinkai [Independent committee of AOTS historical record], 2016, p. 80).

  3. 3.

    AOTS came to support the overseas business of SMEs by giving them preferential treatment in terms of subsidized rates. Irrespective of this, the number of trainees still decreased. One reason for the decline was likely the decreased need for localization, and hence, a decline in the need for training local employees among SMEs compared to the large corporations that used to be the major beneficiaries of AOTS programs. Another reason for the decline was the changed focus of industry in AOTS programs. While the manufacturing industry needed to develop a large number of factory workers, the service industry requires fewer numbers of people in need of training.

  4. 4.

    Even with such an overall decline from the peak, since the second half of the 1990s, the number of trainees has recovered somewhat due to the introduction of several programs: Special Training Activities to Assist Asian Countries in 1997, single-year subsidized programs outsourced by the governments of developing countries, single-year or multiyear Japanese government-sponsored projects, and projects commissioned by international organizations. The total number of trainees received by AOTS exceeded 4,000 as of 2018 (AOTS, 2019).

  5. 5.

    Japanese private companies are seldom directly involved in agriculture, forestry, and fisheries overseas, but training related to the processing of agricultural and marine products is included in manufacturing.

  6. 6.

    Changes in the trends of training programs after 2005 cannot be reflected in the graph because the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) uses a different data format. If consideration is given to the shift of AOTS training from large corporations to SMEs, and from manufacturing to services according to the changed policy of METI along with the effects of budget screening, it is likely that, in recent years, trends in the number of AOTS trainees have diverged from those for the amount of FDI in Asia.

  7. 7.

    The countries to which FDI were targeted include South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

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Shimazu, Y., Tsujimoto, A., Yamada, S. (2022). Private Sector-Led Cooperation in Industrial Human Resource Development: The Case of the Association for Overseas Technical Cooperation and Sustainable Partnerships (AOTS). In: Kayashima, N., Kuroda, K., Kitamura, Y. (eds) Japan’s International Cooperation in Education. Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects, vol 63. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-16-6815-9_8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-16-6815-9_8

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