Continental Student Survey 2011: Chinese Students More Optimistic about Their Professional Future than German Counterparts

Graduates in Germany rate their personal competitiveness in an international comparison more positively / Chinese university graduates have sights set mostly on "armchair or expert careers"
(lifePR) (Hannover, ) Chinese students look more optimistically towards their professional future than German university graduates do. While three fourths of the Chinese students assess their personal career prospects "very" or "rather confidently", the Germans at approximately 62% are somewhat more reserved. There are also differences when it comes to career planning. More than half of the Chinese students surveyed understand a career to be the advancement within one single area or one single department. In contrast, about 58% of the German students imagine a career to be advancement with functions in various areas of one company.

Nearly one third of the Chinese strive for an "expert career" as a highly-specialized expert within one department with no human resources responsibility, but this is a goal for only one fifth of German university and college graduates. More than half of the German students rate their personal competitiveness in an international comparison as "very good" to "good", but only a good third of the Chinese surveyed share this positive assessment.

These are some of the findings of the representative "Continental Student Survey" of prospective engineers, natural scientists and economists, which was carried out in 2011 for the first time in China and the eighth time in Germany. On behalf of the international automotive supplier, TNS/Infratest queried around 1,000 students as to their opinions on careers and the work world.

"China is an emerging market not only for Continental. We want to achieve above-average growth there in the next few years. In order for us to succeed in this venture, we have to become an employer of choice in China, and we need to know what future employees think and what motivates them. With the 'Continental Student Survey', we have now taken the pulse of expectations for the first time in China and can say that there are differences between the Chinese results and the findings of the previous studies in Germany and Romania, which we have to consider thoroughly" explains Heinz-Gerhard Wente, member of the Executive Board of Continental.

Although nearly 76% of the Chinese students view their personal professional prospects positively, only some 24% of them believe that Chinese companies score "very well" or "well" in international competition. And also just a good third of the Chinese students surveyed rate their personal competitiveness in an international comparison as "very good" to "good". German students are more self-confident in this regard, with over half of them rating the knowledge they have acquired as "very good" to "good" on an international scale. When asked about international competitiveness, 72% of the German university graduates feel that Germany has a "very good" to "good" position.

Chinese and German university graduates are flexible when it comes to working in other regions of the world for two or three years after finishing their studies. The front runner amongst Chinese students is the USA, with 61.4% of those surveyed saying they would "very definitely" or "most likely" accept a job there. 60.6% also find European countries very attractive. Switzerland (57.5%) and the USA (48.8%) are most popular with German students. At the bottom of the list for German graduates is, besides Russia with 10.9%, China, where only 14.8% want to work. In contrast, 43.8% of the Chinese surveyed would come to Germany for a job. Chinese students are least enthusiastic about South American countries such as Brazil (15.1%), Russia (14.3%) and India (11%).

After starting their career, the university and college graduates do not want to sit back and be satisfied with what they learned during their studies. Nearly 41% of the German students and roughly 58% of the Chinese estimate that in the future, as much as one fifth of the working time must be spent on further education measures in order to remain competitive at the international level. A good fourth of the German university and college graduates even expect to spend more than 20% of their time on further education. Some 38% of the German graduates and 43% of the Chinese feel that it is the duty of the employer to pay the costs for further education measures and would in return invest time outside of their regular working hours. According to a good fifth of the German and a good fourth of the Chinese students surveyed, the employer and employee should equally share the costs for further education measures. A good fourth of the German students and a good fifth of the Chinese expect that the employer cover the costs alone. 11.5% of the German students surveyed expect the government to pay for further education.

"Our company has much to offer when it comes to the expectations of Chinese university graduates," emphasizes Wente. "We are working on the megatrends of the automotive industry. We offer - based upon our high systems competence as a globally active automotive supplier and industry partner - on-the-job continuing education, early assumption of responsibility and an excellent performance-oriented team."

Continental has nearly 160,000 employees worldwide, some 14,000 of which work at eleven locations in China. The international automotive supplier hires about 1,500 graduates as well as young professionals each year. In 2011, Continental will recruit mainly chemists and mechanical and electronic engineers.


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