First Steps in the Labour Market


First Steps into the Labour Market

International survey of students and graduates

This report considers our region’s future business leaders – the ambitious and hard-working young people who are already proving themselves at Central Europe’s best universities to be at the forefront of their generation. Evidence gathered over the years shows that high-achieving students create successful careers later on, often in senior management and leadership positions.

The questions we asked them in our survey covered many areas relating to their career expectations – and their answers were frequently fascinating and unexpected.

The four groups

Despite many similarities between high-achieving young people, it goes without saying people are not similar to one another in every aspect. Hence, four key groupings of millenials have emerged, with different attitudes to life in many areas. This allows for the identification of the four attitude related profiles. It is worth pointing out that happy family and good health are most important to all four groups, while professional work comes third for three of them. The main differences come lower down the list of options. The groups we distinguished are:

First Steps into the Labour Market

'Fast Trackers'

They want nothing more than to get on in their careers. It is central not just to their financial progress, but to their social advancement too. That is why they commit 100 per cent of their total potential to the job – rather than having more time off, they would use it to get more done at work. They have the confidence to believe that whenever they make an effort they can always outperform others.

Fast trackers

'Eager Beavers'

For them, work is its own reward. Nothing beats the satisfaction they can gain from a good day at the office. So, while they firmly believe that they should make sacrifices in their private life to get on at work, they never see it as an unpleasant duty. While they certainly see work as key to their social and financial advancement, however, they also have some interests outside their jobs.

Eager beavers

'All Rounders'

They are really balanced. Work is not only a way to develop personally – it is also how they fulfil their duties to society. It goes without saying that they would work even if they didn’t have to. And while work is far more important than simply leading to promotions and more money, it is not the beall- and-end-all for them. Their life away from work really matters too, and they never feel that they ought to give up outside interests because of the demands of the job.



Work is far from the most important thing in their lives. It is not even a foundation for self-development or learning. Members of this group are very unlikely to let it get in the way of enjoying life away from work. It is something to put up with because they have to earn money somehow – if it was possible for them to get by without a job, they would probably give it up immediately.


Key findings

Here we outline the key views of our respondents on issues ranging from leadership to the role of work in their lives and how they expect
to be rewarded.

Leadership and competencies

In the view of our respondents, true leaders have great charisma and outstanding strategic abilities, which suggests the youth might be inclined to believe leadership talents are innate. Indeed, just 19 per cent believe university has prepared them well for the world of work. Even fewer (15 per cent) feel they have been well prepared to look for a job (a similar finding to those in the 2013 and 2015 editions of ‘First Steps’). In the same spirit, in comparison to the previous years fewer feel ready to cope with stress or perceive themselves as leaders.

However, most respondents are very confident in their competencies – with 80 per cent rating their own competencies as better than those of other people, a rise of five percentage points (p.p.) over our findings in 2015 took place. We believe these views are typical of those who enter the labour market having graduated from leading universities. In addition, the competencies they rate most highly again include those that can be improved by education – effective learning, logical thinking and teamwork for example.

Leadership and competencies

The importance of work

Although having a happy social and family life and good health rank ahead of professional success, 38 per cent of respondents still tell us their lives revolve around work – an 8 p.p. rise since the previous survey.

In addition, 85 per cent see the benefits that come from work as crucial to realizing human potential as well as social and financial advancement. Meanwhile, 83 per cent would choose to work even if they did not have to.

Importance of work

Salaries and other rewards

The great majority of respondents see those employers that offer the opportunity to acquire and develop new skills as the most attractive (what is more 46 per cent see this as the most important factor), ahead of an attractive salary (13 per cent), a good atmosphere at work (8 per cent ) and the opportunity to develop new and interesting projects (8 per cent).

Salaries and other rewards

Celebrating differences

As in 2015, female respondents still believe they are better organised, more communicative and more teamwork-oriented than males. In addition, 88 per cent respondents would want to work in a diversified workplace (in terms of age, gender and nationality), although more women than men selected this option.

Celebrating differences

This rise in the value that young people ascribe to work does not mean that they’re ready to sacrifice their personal lives. Rather, they want to be part of something that is meaningful, working for an organisation where their work is appreciated, their opinions matter, they can make a difference and that is democratically managed. Indeed, nearly 39 per cent of respondents believe that a democratic approach is an important attribute of a true leader. Employers that get this balance right will win the loyalty and dedication of their most talented young people.

- Adham Hafoudh, Talent Leader, Deloitte Central Europe

First steps into the labour market