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Continental student survey


Discussion about women's quota leaves its mark on female students’ view of career opportunities


·     Graduates believe there is a need to make up lots of ground on diversity issues

·     Half believe in personal competitiveness in an international comparison

·     Willingness to take on international jobs remains low


Discussions about introducing women’s quotas in German companies have left a definite mark on female students in the country. Young women are more cautious about their career opportunities than they have been since 2004. Only around one in two students is very or relatively confident when it comes to their career prospects, compared to two out of three female students just two years ago. At the same time, the discrepancy with their male counterparts’ rating of their own future opportunities has risen to a new high. The difference is around 15 percentage points, with around 70 percent of male students being very or relatively confident about their career prospects. 


These are some of the findings of the 8th representative "Continental Student Survey” 2011 of prospective engineers, natural scientists and economists, published by the international automotive supplier in Hanover. The company engaged TNS/Infratest to question around 1,000 students as to their opinions on careers, the world of work 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 scarcity of skilled employees and demographic trends.


Generally, the majority of both male and female graduates remains optimistic about their careers. But although a strong economic recovery can be seen after the global financial and economic crisis, students rate their career opportunities and prospects as slightly weaker than last year. Nevertheless, 61.7% still consider their prospects to be very good or good, although this is more than 3 percent down on 2010 (65%), the lowest figure since the survey began back in 2004. This bottom figure in the survey can be attributed to the rather cautious opinions of female respondents. A figure of just 53.7% among women depresses the average value to 61.7%, with male students much more confident (71.1%).

"Personally, I feel that university graduates have good career prospects. In my opinion, successful students who complete their studies with flying colors at a renowned university have very good chances for a rewarding start in their career. It doesn’t matter here whether the graduate is male or female. The most important criteria is their record of achievements,” commented Ariane Friedrich, competitive athlete and graduate of the Verwaltungsfach-hochschule Wiesbaden.


At the same time, students gave the state and business a poor rating in terms of their diversity management. Almost half of respondents believe that neither business nor the state has done enough to meet the challenge of diversity in terms of age and gender. Students believe the key initiatives by business to help achieve a better work/life balance are flexible working times (22.4%), childcare at work (22.2%), full day childcare (10.3%) and home working options (8.7%). The graduates believe that the state’s responsibilities include full day childcare (29.4%), state subsidies or support for families (6.9%), cheaper or free childcare places (6.4%), support for childcare in the workplace (5.6%) and increased parental leave pay (4.5%).


"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 Continental Executive Board member for HR, Heinz-Gerhard 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.”


Male and female students alike consider the working conditions in Germany to be slightly worse than in other industrial countries (38%) when it comes to work/life balance. Particularly in respect of female managers, 32.7% of respondents believe that the balance is more difficult to achieve in Germany. In terms of home care of sick or elderly family members, 30.5% rate the situation in Germany as slightly worse.

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 other engineers. Through the Global Engineering Excellence Initiative, the company collaborates with eight universities of international renown, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, RWTH Aachen and Tsinghua University. Via its more than 500 ambassadors, Continental reaches out to 250 universities all around the globe. Each year, another 600 or so young people start a work-study program leading to a traineeship or a bachelor degree at Continental. Throughout Germany the international automotive supplier offers 16 work-study programs and 19 traineeships.

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