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Young People Ready to Launch Their Careers, But Not at the Expense of Their Families.

May 27, 2014

1st Continental Student Survey in Brazil

  • Brazilian students positive about their career opportunities
  • More than half would postpone their career for their family
  • Around one third of students are willing to go abroad for work

Hanover, May 27, 2014. Brazilian students are positive about their career opportunities. According to the first "Continental Student Survey" in Brazil, 80% regard their prospects as (very) positive, while 66% believe that they have a (very) good chance of competing internationally for attractive jobs. Male students have more faith in their career prospects (85%) and competitive abilities (70%) than their female counterparts, 71% of whom regard their career prospects, and 59% their competitive opportunities, as (very) positive.

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These are the key findings of the study conducted by Continental – the international automotive supplier, tire manufacturer and industrial partner – in Brazil for the first time in 2013 on the expectations of Brazilian students regarding the world of work, professions, and careers. The study focused on the following questions in particular: What are the career ambitions of young people? To which working conditions do the younger generation aspire? What does "work/life balance" mean to students? For this representative survey, the Institute for Applied Social Sciences (Infas) questioned 1,001 students majoring in engineering, natural sciences, mathematics, IT, and economics.

Career Ambitions

Students in Brazil are ambitious in their career aims: 23% saw themselves starting their careers in a mid-level position, while 41% believed that they would start their professional life in a management role. After five years of work, 68% saw themselves with managerial responsibilities, a figure rising to 74% after ten years.

While men and women may begin their careers on an equal footing, the female students pulled ahead of their male compatriots in their career expectations – 72% see themselves in a top position after five years, compared with 65% of the men surveyed. This gap narrows after ten years, although the women still retain their lead with 78% (73% for men).

The students' career ambitions also shone through in their choice of future employer. For around half of the students (49%), good prospects of promotion play a key role in their selection. "For the students, concerns about financial security and support, education and qualifications, and families and partners are key areas of their lives at the start of their professional careers. Here, we can see that the Brazilian students seek a balance between their professional and private lives – they attach great importance to both," says Continental's HR Director Elke Strathmann.

Career and Family

More than half of the students (56%) stated that they would be willing to put their professional ambitions on the back burner for their families. At 58%, the men surveyed feel even more duty-bound to their families than the women (52%).  "As an employer, we want to respond flexibly to this desire for an even balance between a busy private life and career ambitions. And we aim to give well-educated people the freedom they require to do just that," Strathmann explains.

The Brazilian study showed that students have a very open mind toward the differences between men and women. Just over half (51%) of the Brazilian students were of the opinion that men and women have equal rights in all areas of life. However, there are still shortcomings in the world of work: 28% of those surveyed felt that men had an advantage over women in terms of careers.


Students in Brazil are also prepared to go abroad for their careers. Around one third (29%) would leave their home country for a good job. The Brazilian students would be particularly attracted to jobs in foreign countries if offered an above-average salary (55%) and thorough preparations for their stay abroad with language training and cultural information (34%). The U.S. (78%), Southern Europe (74%), and South America (73%) proved very popular. And almost half of the students surveyed (45%) could see themselves taking a job in the growth region of China. "International experience is and will remain one of the most important requirements for making it to the very top of a global corporation. We see it as our task to create opportunities for stays abroad that are beneficial for both sides," says Strathmann. "So it's great that around one third of students in Brazil could see themselves working abroad."

79% stated that the impact on their family and relationships might prevent them from working abroad, while 32% extended this to friends and acquaintances. "The challenge for the future lies in giving well-qualified young people enough room in their working environment to enjoy not only a family life but also enough security to ensure a solid and reliable grounding. However, we must always consider the needs of the company. In any case, Continental wants to give young people the opportunity to broaden their horizons in the long term – and mobility, internationality, and security are a part of that," Strathmann concludes.