International MBA Survey 2020: trends and issues in MBA employment

MBA recruiters value the skills that Business School graduates bring to organisations, but worry there may not be enough suitable roles for MBAs in a post-Covid world, according to AMBA & BGA’s poll of 1,000 employers.

New research of more than 1,000 employers that recruit MBA-specific roles, finds that recruiters are ‘overwhelmingly positive’ about the value of an MBA from a reputable Business School when looking for senior managers, but that there is lack of confidence in the future of both global and local economies, with most survey participants taking a conservative view on their upcoming recruitment plans.

More than a quarter of employers (28%) believe there are too many candidates for too few jobs.

The survey, carried out by the Association of MBAs and Business Graduates Association (AMBA & BGA) was opened at a time when the majority of the world was beginning to implement lockdown measures as a result of Covid-19. The survey closed as restrictions in many parts of the world were beginning to ease.

This study therefore provides a unique snapshot into employers’ MBA recruitment plans in light of, and in the wake of, the Covid-19 pandemic.

Key findings

  • Employers hold a positive impression of Business Schools, with 47% classifying themselves as ‘very favourable’ and 40% saying they were ‘fairly favourable’ towards Business Schools.
  • 31% of employers ‘strongly agreed’ and 49% ‘tended to agree’ that MBAs had the relevant skills to make a significant contribution to the wider economy in their respective countries.
  • 32% of employers ‘strongly agreed’ with the statement ‘MBAs are good problem solvers’, while 49% ‘tended to agree’.
  • 22% of employers ‘strongly agreed’ with the statement ‘MBAs have adequate soft skills’ while 7% of respondents either ‘tended to disagree’ or ‘strongly disagreed’ with this statement.
  • 61% of employers are either ‘not very confident’ or ‘not confident at all’ in the state of the global economy.
  • While 35% of survey participants think they will be recruiting ‘a lot fewer’ management leaders in 2020 than they did in 2019, 14% think they will be recruiting more management leaders than last year and 16% believe their recruitment of MBA-relevant roles will be the same as 2019.
  • A ‘lack of skills’ among MBA applicants was the most commonly cited hurdle to recruiters – 53% stated that this is a major issue for them. ‘Lack of creativity’ was cited by 47% of the sample.
  • The sample was divided when it came to whether or not they believed MBAs are only motivated by money – while 44% ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘tended to agree’ this was the case, 23% either ‘strongly disagreed’ or ‘tended to disagree’ and 34% were undecided.

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