First Steps into the Labor Market
High self-confidence among young people looking for their first job as well as the perception that higher education institutions are insufficient in preparing younger generations for finding and performing on their first job are two essential features of the labour market in Central and Eastern Europe.
These are some of the key findings of a wider report that covered 11 countries across Central and Eastern Europe with the support of more than 4,000 students and graduates, mostly from economic faculties in major cities. Romania joined the project at the end of last year and was thus included in the 3rd issue of Deloitte’s “First Steps into the Labour Market” report.
“The answers of Romanian students corroborate the general findings of the regional report: generally speaking, young people may tend to rate highly their capabilities before making their first contact with the reality in the labour market, a fact confirmed by our recruitment experience as well,” said Carmen Baibarac, Human Resources Senior Manager, Deloitte Romania. “This is an age-specific attitude, and we all remember our own enthusiasm during college years. However, if taken to extremes, students are opening themselves up to the threat of disappointment in real life when they find that not all employers share their positive views - either during the selection process or, once hired, when their performance is first assessed.”
The Deloitte research reveals that more than 80% of respondents rated their own analytical, communication, interpersonal, problem-solving, learning and team-work skills as “high” or “quite high”. Even a competency such as “delegating and coordinating the work of others”, which students are generally unlikely to have developed, is self-assessed as “high” or “quite high” by 71% of respondents. Accordingly, 79% of respondents perceive themselves as offering “high” or “quite high” value to their current and future employers.
In a closely related issue, their average financial expectations for a first job also exceed what many employers on the local market are prepared to pay their first-time employees, often exceeding Romania’s average national salary.
Separately, almost 50% of the surveyed students think that Romanian higher education institutions in general are “poor” or “quite poor” in preparing their graduates for future professional duties; only 15% answered “well” or “quite well”. Moreover, 72% rate as “poor” or “quite poor” the way higher education institutions prepare graduates for the process of looking for a job.
“Taken together, these findings reveal a level of general dissatisfaction with the quality of formal education among the students we surveyed, particularly with the rather non-technical issue of preparing graduates to find attractive career opportu¬nities. Although we have seen some positive signs of progress among universities in recent years, it appears that there is still significant room for improvement in this respect,” said Silviu Badescu, Human Resources Manager “At an individual level, though, students’ view on their own college differs from one specialisation to another, with students in finance, accounting or legal displaying a more positive perception of their college than students in other specialisations.”
In addition, the report shows that today’s young people value work as highly as older generations do, exploding the myth that they are more focused on self-development and free time. In fact, in a reflection of how highly they value work most respondents say they would be willing to move, either within the country or abroad, to take an attractive job.
Central Europe – a divided, yet similar market
Despite common beliefs to the contrary, members of the so-called ‘Generation Y’ (those born in the late 1980s and early 1990s) are not a homogenous group sharing similar attitudes to work and work-life balance. Students from Poland and Hungary, for example, differ considerably in their attitudes to work, career plans, expectations and ambitions. What’s more, those from the Baltic states (Lithuania and Latvia in particular) are more optimistic than those from the other nine countries, while those from the Balkans are the least positive.
Another interesting highlight is that a high proportion of students and recent graduates from leading universities across Central Europe tend to rate their own abilities highly, ahead of those peers with whom they are competing for employment. And in a closely related issue, their financial expectations for a first job can also exceed what the region’s employers are prepared to pay their first-time employees, often significantly exceeding their country’s average national salary.
According to Gavin Flook, Talent Partner, Deloitte Central Europe, “While it is good to see high levels of personal confidence among so many of the participants in our survey, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that many will eventually be disappointed by the fact that employers do not hold them in quite such high esteem as they do themselves. The students and recent graduates we surveyed also reported that they felt universities could and should provide better preparation for the world of work and the process of finding a job. Maybe better preparation of this sort would ensure that recent graduates deliver better value for their employers from day one.”
Improvement in this area may, in fact, have a key role to play in addressing high unemployment among young people, including graduates, which is one of the most significant issues affecting the Central Europe region and EU as a whole.
The report also found that many of the attributes of an employer that are most effective in attracting and retaining the region’s leading graduate talent are not difficult or expensive to implement. For example, opportunities for lasting development and learning are the most important criteria in selecting a job, while appreciation and recognition for the quality of work done are the most powerful means of retaining the best people. As Flook comments, “These tend to be attributes of good employers anyway, and are actually more effective than offering high salaries.”
Visit www.deloitte.com/1steps to download a copy of the “First Steps into the Labour Market” report.
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