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Students Substantially More Oriented towards International Markets

4th "Continental Student Survey" in Romania

(PresseBox) (Bucharest, Romania/Hanover, Germany, ) .
- Half believe in personal competitiveness in an international comparison
- Graduates feel there is a need to make up lots of ground on diversity issues

To an even greater extent than in the past, Romanian students have realized what it means to live and work in a globalized world: they are much more oriented towards international markets compared to 2009. The regions or countries the students favor for their stay abroad are Western Europe in general ("definitely/quite likely": 77.7 percent), Switzerland ("definitely/quite likely": 63.6 percent) and the USA ("definitely/quite likely": 65.5 percent). The percentage of students who could imagine working in South America more than doubled ("definitely/quite likely": 2009: 15.3 percent, 2011: 31.9 percent) and the number for China even tripled ("definitely/quite likely": 2009: 7.5 percent, 2011: 22.6 percent).

These are some of the findings of the fourth representative "Continental Student Survey" conducted in Romania among prospective engineers and economists, and published by the international automotive supplier in Bucharest on Wednesday. The company engaged TNS/Infratest to question around 1,000 Romanian students as to their opinions on careers, the (future) work world and university-related issues. This year, a further focus area was the issue of diversity, in terms of age, origin and gender, in the context of skills shortage and demographic trends.

"Being a global automotive company, Continental is highly interested in detecting trends regarding technological expertise and education on a worldwide scale. The significance of engineering sciences continues to increase throughout the world, and, as a leading international automotive supplier, Continental needs young top-notch talents who are willing to work abroad for some time in order to share their knowledge with colleagues around the globe," explained Heinz-Gerhard Wente, member of the Executive Board of Continental.

When offered the "job of their dreams" at their "preferred company" in Western Europe upon completion of their studies, 39.6 percent of the students state they would "very definitely" or "rather likely" accept it. If they had a chance to get a well-paid job in Western Europe even nearly half of them (44.9 percent) would choose this job "very definitely" or "rather likely" over being unemployed in Romania.

"The students and the graduates have a clearer, more mature perception of the labor market in the context of globalization, being more oriented, more attracted to the private labor market and to distant geographical areas such as China or South America," emphasized Aurora Liiceanu, PhD, renowned psychologist and guest speaker at the conference. "This means both a pragmatic and flexible accommodation, but also a lucid vision of the present."

At the same time the respondents view their future career prospects more critically than in 2009. While 29.0 percent were "very confident" and 41.6 percent "fairly confident" in 2009, the results of the current evaluation shows less optimism: only some 17.5 percent were very confident and 49.6 percent were fairly confident. This is even different than in Germany ("very/fairly confident": male: 71.1 percent, female: 53.7 percent), where the male respondents ("very/fairly confident": 68.7 percent) judge their perspectives only slightly better than their female fellow students ("very/fairly confident": 65.2 percent). In international comparison, nearly half of the students (46.8 percent) rate their own personal competitiveness in landing an attractive job in the industry as "(very) good." In this respect they are almost as positive as their fellow students in Germany (53.3 percent). Whereas back in 2009 the "advancement within a department/unit" meant career for the majority of the graduates (46.7 percent, 2011: 35.5 percent), today for the majority of the students (55.2 percent) career means "advancement with functions in various corporate task areas." (2009: 41.8 percent)

The majority of the students (57.5 percent) think that promoting cooperation among teams characterized by diversity can be seen as an innovation engine for business, because it supports different ideas and gives multiple perspectives. Overall, the compatibility of career and family in Romania compared to other industrialized countries is rated rather negatively.

43.0 percent think it is somewhat poorer in Romania than in other industrialized countries, 23.4 percent evaluate it even much poorer. Only 14.5 percent give a positive rating. Regarding the compatibility of career and family especially with respect to skilled female workers, the results are similar: only 10.8 percent rate it positively. The compatibility of career and family especially with respect to caring for ill or older family members at home is rated even worse. 80.3 percent believe it is somewhat (35.9 percent) or much (44.4 percent) poorer in Romania than in other industrialized countries, only 7.3 percent think it is (much) better.

"With the results of this survey, students are sending a clear message to the state and business: tackle the challenge of diversity, come up with and offer solutions, open up new perspectives," summarizes Wente. "In recent years, Continental has already responded to this. We want to increasingly make female graduates aware of the career prospects at one of the world's leading automotive suppliers and to sustainably improve their career opportunities with us through active coaching and mentoring."

While the role of the industry is seen positive with regards to actively facing up to the challenge of diversity in terms of international specialists (58.4 percent), industry's merits with respect to the (further) qualification of employees is rather indecisive (35.5 percent yes, 38.4 percent no). Regarding promotion of compatibility of career and family, 42.9 percent give a negative answer. An even more critical evaluation is given for the item of (further) qualification of older employees, which is rated negatively by nearly half of the respondents (49.2 percent).

Earlier this year, German students had to a large extent rated both the industry's and the state's activities poorly. Romanian students are just as critical when it comes to the role of the state. At most a quarter of the students feel that the state is actively facing up to the challenge of diversity in terms of international specialists (25.5 percent), (further) qualification of employees (18.9 percent), promoting the compatibility of career and family (17.3 percent) and the (further) qualification of older employees (12.7 percent).

The drivers for a better compatibility offered by the state and the industry are given as "financial benefits" and "bonuses." When asked open-ended what benefits on the part of the industry they feel could enhance the compatibility of family and career, 48.9 percent answer financial benefits and bonuses.

Further suggestions are holidays with longer periods (16.0 percent), flexible (15.8 percent) and normal (11.6 percent) working program and secure jobs (4.9 percent). Regarding the state, the top answers are higher wages and bonuses (34.0 percent), more holidays (13.8 percent), flexible programs (8.8 percent), more and secure jobs (8.5 percent) and tax reductions (8.1 percent).

"Regarding the employer - in either the state, or the business environment - the respondents showed profound and correct analysis capabilities of their expectations. They assess similarities and differences in the extent to which these expectations are fulfilled by comparing the way the labor satisfaction contributes to the life satisfaction," commented Dr. Liiceanu.

Besides enhancing the compatibility of family and career, nearly two thirds (60.6 percent) of the respondents feel that the concept of lifelong learning offers Romania a chance to be competitive in international comparison, calling on both business and the state to enable urgently required skilled personnel to work until the age of 65. This reflects the German students' tendencies. 43.5 percent think the industry could enhance the ability of workers with desperately needed skills to continue to work through to the age of 65 (or longer) by providing more money and financial benefits, 8.9 percent believe it could be enhanced through better working conditions. Paying for training and courses is crucial for 8.7 percent and a flexible program for 6.3 percent. In terms of what the state could improve, the following three financial aspects are most frequently mentioned: Money/salaries/bonuses (30.2 percent), higher pensions (12.6 percent) and rebated taxes (6.6 percent). Further suggestions are reduced working hours (5.0 percent), better working conditions (4.8 percent) and improved health insurance (4.7 percent).

Continental Reifen Deutschland GmbH

With sales of €26 billion in 2010, Continental is among the leading automotive suppliers worldwide. As a supplier of brake systems, systems and components for powertrains and chassis, instrumentation, infotainment solutions, vehicle electronics, tires and technical elastomers, Continental contributes to enhanced driving safety and global climate protection. Continental is also an expert partner in networked automobile communication. Continental currently has approximately 160,000 employees in 45 countries.

Continental hires more than 1,500 graduates and young professionals worldwide each year, 400 of them in Germany. In 2011, the international automotive supplier will recruit mainly chemists and mechanical and electric engineers. Through the Global Engineering Excellence Initiative, the company collaborates with nine universities of international renown, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, RWTH Aachen and Tongji University. Via its more than 600 ambassadors, Continental reaches out to 250 universities all around the globe.