New research from the Association of MBAs (AMBA) and Business Graduates Association (BGA) shows concern for the global economy and a hyper competitive MBA jobs market in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The MBA employers report surveyed more than 1,000 employers that recruit MBA-specific roles. It found that despite viewing MBA-grade managers in a positive light there is a lack of confidence in the future of both global and local economies.
The survey 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.
MBA recruitment prospects
Furloughed staff, job cuts, and the financial pressure placed on companies amid the pandemic mean that many companies have scaled back or frozen MBA recruitment for the time being—especially in the industries that have been hit the hardest, like hospitality and travel.
That is reflected in the report, as more than a quarter of employers (28%) believe there are too many candidates for too few jobs.
Current confidence is low, with more than six out of 10 employers (61%) stating that they were either ‘not very confident’ or ‘not confident at all’ in the state of the global economy.
MBA employers have an equally bleak view of the state of local economies, with 60% saying they were ‘not very confident’ or ‘not confident at all’ in the state of their own country’s economic performance.
The MBA jobs market is set to be even more competitive in the wake of the pandemic.
Across the survey, the mean number of new positions relevant to MBA graduates in the last two years at each company was 20. The mean number of MBAs applying for senior roles across respondent’s organization’s in the past two years was 93.
That shows that even before the pandemic the MBA jobs market was hypercompetitive. And the report shows in the wake of COVID-19 an approach of conservatism, cost cutting, and recruitment freezes among employers. But it’s not all bleak.
While more than a third of survey participants (35%) think they will be recruiting ‘a lot fewer’ management leaders than 2019, 14% do 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.
Recovery and the future of MBA recruitment
Though the challenges facing MBA candidates applying for jobs this summer are obvious, the MBA degree is still sought after by employers. The companies hiring the most MBAs will continue to need top-level managerial talent, and as the economy recovers hiring will increase again.
The AMBA report shows that 31% of employers cite the country where a candidate completed their MBA as ‘not very important’ or ‘not important at all’, which is a positive sign for candidates who perhaps can’t enrol on an MBA program in their first choice country because of travel or visa restrictions.
It’s also now easier for candidates to find jobs in countries other than where they are studying their MBA. Virtual recruitment fairs launched by Highered and EFMD this summer give MBA candidates the opportunity to meet with recruiters from all around the world.
Good news for MBA candidates is that 68% of responding employers rate MBAs as excellent or very good employees. 80% strongly agree or tend to agree that MBA grads have the relevant skills to thrive at their organization.
An MBA is seen as a long-term investment rather than a short term fix, and so as economies around the world begin to recover, the skills gained on an MBA will still be desirable. It could be a way to stand out in the post-coronavirus jobs market.
Watch: Applying to business school during COVID-19