/ 30 May 2024

Is an MBA worth the effort? 


Corporate recruiters are still hiring graduates with this degree

Business schools are on the right track to develop the skills their graduates need in the workforce. This is according to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC)’s 2023 Corporate Recruiters Survey, which provides insights into current trends in hiring, compensation, skill demand, and perceptions of MBA and business master’s graduates. 

According to GMAC CEO Joy Jones, bread-and-butter capabilities such as interpersonal skills, communication and strategic thinking are still the most in demand. The rise of new technology, hybrid offices and multinational teamwork means executive education graduates are expected to embrace classic business school capabilities in new ways: “Graduates will need to be able to communicate effectively across cultures and a wider variety of media, lead a multi-generational workforce through uncertain times, and make smart choices to leverage new technology to drive innovation.” 

Overall employer satisfaction remained high; 82% of employers expressed confidence in the ability of business schools to prepare students for success: “There is an opportunity to keep business school students competitive by deepening the cross-cultural and technological capabilities of graduates — including among specialists — to ensure they can thrive in the future workplace,” says Jones.  

MBA: Current and relevant 

According to the more than 1 000 recruiters from 34 countries surveyed, the workplace of tomorrow will be increasingly global, hybrid, and dependent on different mediums of effective communication across cultures, while areas like communication, data analysis and strategy will continue to grow in importance over the next five years. 

Online degrees lost some favour since the previous survey. Employers also believed that professionals who completed a degree like an MBA from a business school would be more successful than those with micro-credentials only. 

Job opportunities abound 

Globally the total hiring for MBA graduates increased over the last five years, with more than three-quarters of employers across industries hiring MBAs in the past two years. Since 2019, the nonprofit and government sectors have shown the most growth in hiring MBA graduates worldwide. Publicly traded companies still hire the most business school talent across the board. 

The hiring of business graduates was proportionally highest in Asian regions, where employers were also the most willing to hire international candidates. Africa saw an increase in the hiring of MBAs and graduates with Master’s in Management and Accounting, with no recruiter or organisation foreseeing that this demand would decrease in the next five years. Across the continent, the demand for business school graduates is expected to increase by 2028. 

Money matters 

The survey showed Africa’s MBA graduates earning more than their counterparts in the Middle East and Latin America in 2023, but falling behind those in the US and Asia. The median starting salary for an MBA graduate in Africa in 2023 was $3 500 (approximately R65 000); graduates with a Master’s degree are estimated to make $10 000 – 20 000 more than those with a Bachelor’s degree. 

Salaries and hiring considerations by employers were linked to inflation and recession risks, but “despite unfavourable macroeconomic conditions looming, employers have not abandoned their plans” to hire business school graduates.