The global recession, which resulted from the credit crunch at the end of 2007 and the ensuing full financial meltdown in the middle of 2008, has rattled the MBA jobs markets in North America and Western Europe. Until recently, the MBA job trends in both regions could safely be described as stagnant.
The difficult times, however, now seem a thing of the past. According to the findings of three independent surveys, demand for business school graduates in the mature MBA market is growing as employers are increasingly on the lookout for managerial talent. On-campus recruiting is intensifying, salaries are on the rise, and, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), demand for recent grads hit a six-year high in 2016.
But MBAs in the western world are not the only ones enjoying bright career prospects. Business school graduates are also sought-after in countries such as India, Brazil, UAE, Singapore, South Korea, China, Peru and Mexico.
The surveys carried out by MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance, QS and GMAC differ in their scope, purpose and methodology, but they all point to the conclusion that demand for MBAs is picking up steadily and shows no signs of abating.
Mature MBA markets make remarkable recovery
The upward trend is particularly obvious in the US and Canada, where new opportunities for MBA graduates surged 26% in 2015, driven by the technology, consulting and pharmaceuticals sectors, according to the 2015 QS Employer Survey.
The report, which is based on a poll of 3,952 companies in 88 countries around the world who actively hire MBAs, shows the impressive recovery in a region which as recently as 2012 was grappling with MBA jobs growth of a mere 2%.
Western Europe, which has been beset by an array of crises over the last years, reported a 9% increase in MBA job opportunities, which is not as impressive as North America’s figures but still serves as evidence that the world’s top MBA markets are getting back in shape.
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Asia-Pacific’s 18% rise in MBA jobs beat QS’ expectations for a levelling-out. It turns out that the employers’ hunger for MBA graduates in the region is yet to be satisfied.
Of course, not all regions were enjoying break-neck growth. Latin America saw a rise of only 1%, while Eastern Europe recorded a 4% increase in MBA jobs.
Top 20 countries for MBA demand 1. USA 2. India 3. Brazil 4. UAE 5. Canada 6. Singapore 7. South Korea 8. China 9. Peru 10. Mexico
The robust growth in the Asia-Pacific region naturally boosts the salaries paid to MBA graduates in this part of the world. New Zealand and Australia came in first and third, respectively, in the 2015 MBA salary ranking. Switzerland, which has long benefited from the strategy of many foreign companies to relocate to the country in order to cut their tax bills, ranked second, taking advantage of the buoyant demand for MBA graduates.
Country of Employer Average Salary (in USD)
|1. New Zealand||145,000|
|4. United States||103,300|
|6. United Kingdom||98,500|
In addition to attracting more employers, the MBA degree also appears to be growing more diverse. The rise in the number of jobs offered to MBAs in smaller sectors such as consumer goods and construction/property testifies to the growing diversity of the degree, with organisations in more and more industries realising that they need employees who had gained the knowledge and skills given by MBA programmes.
The biggest rises in MBA job opportunities were seen in energy (up 20%), consumer goods (33%), construction & property (46%), consulting (24%) and manufacturing & engineering (22%). The pharmaceuticals/biotech & healthcare industry, which has struggled in recent years, showed promising signs of nascent recovery by posting a 17% increase, with a similar rise predicted for 2016.
On-campus recruiting picks up
Employers, being eager to tap the MBA talent pool, often don’t wait for students to graduate but head straight for the campuses to cherry-pick the young professionals who they believe would be capable of driving growth at their companies. More than half of the respondents in the Spring 2016 Recruiting Trends Survey by MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance, formerly MBA Career Services Council, said they experienced increased on-campus recruiting for full-time MBAs this year compared with the same period last year. Only 14% reported a decrease.
The data is based on a poll of 104 business schools (92% of respondents were North American universities) carried out between 14 June 2016 and 13 July 2016.
About 55% of the respondents reported a higher number of full-time postings for full-time MBA students, with the strongest increase in recruiting activity seen in the technology industry, followed by the consulting and healthcare sectors. The largest decrease was reported for the energy industry.
By company type, start-ups recorded the largest increase in recruitment activity.
On-campus recruiting for part-time MBA programmes (excluding Executive MBAs) was more subdued, with only 41% of respondents reporting increased enlisting. Half of the respondents reported increased full-time postings for part-time MBA students, while 3% reported a decrease year-on-year.
Companies in technology, consulting and healthcare were the most active recruiters in the part-time MBA field, while the largest decreases in recruiting activity were recorded in the energy and media/entertainment industries.
In terms of company type, mid-sized companies were the most active recruiters.
Bright prospects for MBAs
The forward-looking Corporate Recruiters Survey by GMAC, the organisation that administers the GMAT exam, puts the finishing touches to the overall picture of an MBA job market in the best of health.
The survey, conducted in February and March 2016, discovered that
the robust hiring market in 2016 favours MBA talent, showing strongest employer demand for recent grads since 2010.
This conclusion is based on a poll of more than 840 employers representing over 530 companies in 40 countries worldwide who work directly with participating business schools.
Underscoring the belief that the MBA degree is unlikely to go out of fashion anytime soon, 88% of corporate recruiters, who work directly with participating graduate business schools, said they plan to hire recent MBA graduates in 2016, compared with 80% of companies that actually hired MBAs in 2015. Check out: Boosting your Career with an MBA
More companies in Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and the United States announced plans to hire MBAs in 2016, compared with 2015 and nearly 9 in 10 companies said they would recruit MBAs on-campus.
In order to woo the best MBA talent, employers are ready to dig deeper into their pockets too. US-based companies plan to offer recent MBA graduates a starting median base salary of USD 105,000 in 2016, up from USD 100,000 last year, according to the GMAC survey.
By and large, the MBA job market is bouncing back. Businesses are casting about for employees possessing the necessary leadership skills and knowledge to drive growth, and MBA graduates are usually the go-to professionals when it comes to this. MBA degrees, it seems, are very rewarding to own these days.