Producing Management Ready Professionals

The Jikei Group's Ambitious New Approach to Professional Education


  • Kunihiko Ukifune, Ph.D.


  • Masaomi Kondo, Ph.D.

Professional training colleges are recognized as educational institutions specializing in cultivating and training professionals. However, in this age of open admissions, the number of universities shifting toward practical professional education has increased in recent years, and differentiating between professional training colleges and universities is becoming more and more difficult. What is the significance of education at professional training colleges? What are the future possibilities? We spoke with Dr. Kunihiko Ukifune, Chairperson of the Jikei Group of Colleges, which has 55 colleges covering a spectrum of fields, ranging from medicine and social welfare, to music, visual arts, culinary arts, beauty care, and performance arts. We also spoke with Dr. Masaomi Kondo, president of the Jikei Education Science Center, which was established to improve management and teaching skills at the Jikei Group of Colleges.

Developing the Human Skills of Close Industry Relations

  • Dr. Ukifune:
    Practical professional education is not the exclusive domain of professional training colleges. Currently, post-secondary institutions such as universities, junior colleges, and technical colleges all provide professional education to varying degrees. But I think universities are more focused on academics and research while junior colleges place more emphasis on liberal arts. In contrast, the stated goal of professional training colleges is professional education needed by industry. In this respect, you can draw a distinction between professional training colleges and other types of post-secondary institutions. In other words, while it goes without saying that professional training colleges provide the skills and knowledge most sought after by future employers, I think our most distinctive characteristic is that we provide education directly in line with industry trends, as well as the essential workplace communication and teamwork skills: leadership, followership, and fellowship. Collectively, these skills can be called human skills.
  • Dr. Kondo:
    Without question, the main advantage of professional training colleges is that we provide the education that best responds to the times. The current situation is that universities, with a more traditional educational system, find it difficult to cope with an ever-changing social climate. Universities have traditionally been the pantheon of scholarship, and their primary role has been educating the leaders of government and society, as well as researchers and educators. To these ends, they have devoted a great deal of time to academic development. But they have also started working on professional education. I think it’s regrettable that now the situation is one where they have to move into the realm of professional training colleges.

The International Language of Skills and Techniques

  • Dr. Ukifune:
    Although we can’t really talk about professional training colleges as a single group, I can at least say that our group is always striving to provide the professional education needed by industry. Our group currently provides professional education corresponding to over 600 careers, but they all share our 3 educational principles of practical education, human education, and international education. Practical education means helping students acquire technical skills and knowledge. As a more specific example, if a career requires national certification or qualification, we provide the education needed to succeed on national examinations. Human education is about fostering interpersonal skills. The foundation of interpersonal skills is greetings, and all of our teachers work hard to help students master these skills. Many specialists transcend borders and the workplace has become increasingly global. For this reason, international education is also very important.
  • Dr. Kondo:
    The specialized knowledge and skills acquired at professional training colleges can be called an international language. We received the Best College Award at the Ferrari Design Competition. Our students are capable of working internationally in many different fields. This is why English education and understanding different cultures will be even more important at professional training colleges. Our group has contributed to international education and partnered with many institutions in Europe, the United States, Australia, China, and Korea. We help students learn to assert their ideas with confidence anywhere in the world and to develop deeper mutual understanding through discussions.
  • Dr. Ukifune:
    “Flow” education is also an important characteristic of professional training colleges. We provide pre-college lessons for students before they are admitted to our colleges. Through interviews and trial lessons, students clarify their goals. At the same time, we help students with their Japanese communication skills, including reading comprehension and writing skills as well as oral communication skills. These skills are lacking among high school students, and they need some revision to succeed at our schools. Once students begin their studies, we provide the fundamental education students need for their respective fields as well as applied education directly connected to the workplace. At the same time, we teach the skills essential for professionals today, such as English and computer skills. The careers that students wish to pursue are intrinsically linked within the flow. This is best explained through the (LT) 2 education system: “Look” (Get to know the workplace.) “Try” (Experience the job first-hand.) “Listen” (Listen to lectures.) “Think” (Think for yourself.) Cooperative education, which is provided through participation in various industry events as well as other means, is also systematically situated within the flow.
  • Dr. Kondo:
    To provide this kind of education effectively, it is essential to raise the professional level of faculty. The Jikei Education Science Center was established for just this mission. Of course, providing training to improve technical knowledge and skills is just one part of professional training college education. Providing education for the person as a whole is what distinguishes us from other schools. We investigate unique education methods to make lessons easier to understand, and we conduct seminars, such as those for counseling young and inexperienced students. And by sharing these results, we raise the level of education throughout the entire group.

Promoting Internationalization of Professional Education

  • Dr. Ukifune:
    I think management ability will become an extremely important keyword for professional education in the future. There are specialists in every workplace, but they lack management skills. Professional education overseas has established many management-related courses, and soon these kinds of courses will become important in Japan as well. So, our group, with the Jikei Education Science Center taking the lead, will pursue the possibilities of education that produces specialists with management skills.
  • Dr. Kondo:
    Management includes both the ability to manage other professionals and organizations as well as the ability to manage oneself. Self-management means orienting yourself toward your goal. It means understanding that studying to achieve success on national examinations is essential to finding employment in your chosen field and realizing your dreams. As we guide students along the path to becoming professionals, we need to help them understand management ways of thinking and use them to their advantage.
  • Dr. Ukifune:
    I would like to devote more energy to education that includes a more international perspective. Most of the departments in our group conduct training for students at universities and other schools overseas. However, specific training focused on professional education differs from the short study abroad trips or language training trips that we typically hold overseas. Gaining international understanding connected with working life will produce positive results. Expectations of Japanese professional education from overseas are high as well. Promoting internationalism will become even more important, and in the future, we will be looking to accept more international students.