Job offers to students set to graduate from universities and graduate schools in Japan next March marked a significant improvement from a year earlier as concerns about the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic subsided, according to a survey conducted by a research institute.

Such offers dropped 1.0 percent to an estimated 676,400, compared to the 15.1 percent tumble in 2021 when firms grew cautious about hiring new graduates due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Recruit Works Institute said.

Students graduating from university in 2022 head to a job fair at Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture on March 1, 2021. (Kyodo)   

Hiroyuki Motegi, an analyst at the Tokyo-based institute, pointed out companies are increasingly willing to hire new graduates, saying they "are prepared to some degree to cope with the third state of emergency" the government declared over the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Going forward, job offers are expected to remain flat or show a gradual recovery," Motegi said.

The academic and business year begins in April for most educational institutions and corporations in Japan.

For students graduating next March, the ratio of job offers to an applicant eased 0.03 point to 1.50, according to the survey.

By size, job offers fell 6.0 percent at companies with 300 to 1,000 employees, and the offers were down 0.2 percent at companies with less than 300 workers.

The number of offers, however, rebounded at companies with more than 1,000 employees.

The number of students applying for firms that employ 5,000 people or more stood at 109,300, up 51.0 percent, which is a sign that students attach importance to large companies seen as more stable.

The number of those applying for firms with less than 1,000 employees showed a decline.

The survey drew responses from 1,674 job-seeking university and graduate students and 4,459 companies with five or more employees in a three-month period through March.